For more than a year the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department has been rolling out its most wanted criminals onto its Web site in hopes the public will help with the fugitives' capture.
The crimes range from drugs to sex crimes to assaults, but they all have one thing in common to make the most wanted list: The crimes have to be felonies and the charges serious.
"It's neat because the technology out there today gives us a proactive approach to do our jobs," Chief Deputy Debi Backdahl said of the most wanted list.
Where to look
Crow Wing County's most wanted and warrant lists can be viewed at www.co.crow-wing.mn.us/Sheriff. The site also provides news releases and the jail custody list.
Anyone wishing to report a person wanted on a warrant can leave a tip at the sheriff's department Web site (e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org), by calling 829-4749 or a local law enforcement agency.
At any given time in Crow Wing County there are more than 1,500 active arrest warrants, with most offenses being misdemeanors.
There is no one officer dedicated to tracking down people on warrants, and Tina Elder, Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department senior technical clerk in charge of warrants, said as fast as warrants are cleared more are issued. Officers memorize pictures and keep an eye out while patrolling, and occasionally the sheriff's department conducts warrant sweeps, but it's the 59,000 residents of Crow Wing County who provide the police with their best dragnet.
"(The sheriff's department) is such a small unit of eyes and ears that we need the public's help," said Sheriff Eric Klang. "The more we can use their eyes and ears to help apprehend these people, the better."
Crow Wing County's most wanted and its complete list of warrants can be viewed at the sheriff's department's Web site at www.co.crow-wing.mn.us/Sheriff.
Klang said though it's a work in progress, listing the most wanted and warrants on the sheriff's department Web site has been popular and he's surprised at how many people tell him they look at it.
Elder said since the sheriff's department began listing warrants on it Web site in August of 2004 there have been about 50 tips that have led to an arrest or cleared up a warrant. Several people on the sheriff's department most wanted list have been captured.
"It may not sound like a lot, but every little bit helps," Elder said.
She said an additional benefit is that state and national law enforcement databases also list the county's felony warrants.
"It's a huge positive for us having them on the Web site because available man hours and manpower is always a factor. It's not that we don't want to look, but it's a question of if we have the time to go and look for these people."
She said if someone sees their name on the warrant list they can turn themselves in at the sheriff's department or go to open court at the Crow Wing County Courthouse, which starts at 8:30 a.m. Mondays and Fridays.
Klang said members of the public who identify someone from the most wanted or warrant lists should not approach the suspect but call their local law enforcement officer.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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