ST. PETERSBURG — Illegal parkers and garbage violators running from the law are getting their chance to come clean.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a one-day event, “Operation Safe Surrender,” on Saturday so individuals with nonviolent misdemeanor warrants may surrender to have their situations reviewed and potentially resolved.
The sheriff’s office is working with the State Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Pinellas-Pasco judges and the Clerk of the Courts.
Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger said the courts need to clear out people who aren’t a threat.
“St. Petersburg is the only municipality in the county that issues warrants for parking tickets. Like a $30 parking ticket,” Dillinger said. “It’s really to get rid of cases that need to go away.”
The first time the event was held, 114 people were processed and 138 warrants were purged. People sometimes may miss a court date accidentally and become “petrified” of getting arrested. One man, Dillinger said, drove from North Carolina to resolve a parking ticket.
“We had several people who were like obsessed with it. Instead of coming in and getting it over with, they were like running their lives around it,” he said.
One woman received a citation for having cars in her yard up on concrete blocks. She was in Afghanistan at the time.
Individuals are asked to report to the Suncoast Safety Council, 1145 Court St., Clearwater. Those with a last name starting with A-K are being asked to arrive between 9 a.m. and noon, and those with a last initial from L-Z from noon to 3 p.m.
A valid photo ID is required, and participants are being asked to leave children and any weapons at home.
Dillinger wants to see similar events at least once or twice a year.
“It’s good for the citizens and it’s good for the taxpayers,” he said.