This is the week of the Great Texas Warrant Roundup, an annual statewide event that the New York Times says functions as an “America's Most Wanted” for an unromanticized subset of the Texas outlaw: the misdemeanor kind. Each year in late February and early March, dozens of law enforcement agencies and municipal courts in big cities and small towns across the state take to the airwaves and to the streets seeking out, apprehending and otherwise rounding up Texans who have ignored their unpaid speeding tickets and other minor infractions for too long.
None is wanted for violent offenses like murder or robbery. The focus is on those with outstanding warrants for misdemeanor traffic, parking and city ordinance violations — going 80 miles per hour in a 70-m.p.h. zone, writing a bad check — who failed to resolve their ticket or case by paying a fine or appearing in court. No other state holds an event like the weeklong Warrant Roundup, now in its sixth year. More than 260 agencies and courts are taking part. By the end of a typical Warrant Roundup, thousands of people will have been arrested and millions of dollars in fines and court fees will have been paid across the state. Last year, Houston arrested 4,110, and the city's municipal courts collected $2.5 million. This year, Waco arrested 32 on Saturday, and San Antonio apprehended 39 on Monday.