Anne Arundel County Sheriff Ronald S. Bateman is once again getting creative in his efforts to deal with those evading arrest.
The Baltimore Sun reports that Bateman hopes to take advantage of new legislation allowing the state to withhold income tax refunds from those with outstanding warrants.
The Maryland General Assembly approved the bill at Bateman’s urging during its recent legislative session, and it is awaiting a signature from Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Under the law, the state comptroller would hold the refund check and send a letter to those with outstanding criminal warrants. Bateman told the Sun that he believed many offenders would turn themselves in to authorities if it meant getting their refund check. He said informal survey of 50 people arrested in the county showed that 40 percent were owed a refund.
"I came up with the idea because I know greed is a close first or second to the root of all crimes," Bateman told the Sun.
The new approach would operate under a one-year pilot program, and would exclude juveniles and military service members. Once approved, it could go into effect as soon as October, the Sun said.
This is not Bateman’s first attempt at trying unique methods to cut down on outstanding warrants. In 2011, deputies executed "Operation Fists to Cuffs," an attempt to clear 150 outstanding warrants of wanted individuals in the county.
The Sun reported that Bateman tried the tax refund technique in reverse in 2007, luring 40 fugitives to Annapolis with the promise of phony tax refunds. He is also well-known for a Valentine’s Day stunt in which those with warrants were apprehended when they signed off on the delivery of phony boxes of candy and flowers.
The techniques, while unpopular in some circles, have helped to reduce the number of outstanding warrants in the county. While Bateman reportedly came into office in 2007 with more than 12,000 warrants outstanding, that number has been cut down to about 8,000.