YOUNGSTOWN - Some 212 people turned themselves in during a safe surrender program held here last week, clearing 240 active warrants in Mahoning County.
Operation Safe Surrender, a program run by state Attorney General Mike DeWine, allows people with outstanding non-violent misdemeanor warrants to turn themselves in and have a chance to clear up their cases.
"Mahoning's is the largest safe surrender program that has happened since the attorney general's office has operated it," Jeff Oleksiak with the attorney general's office said Saturday. "There were more warrants cleared in other communities when the U.S. Marshal's office ran the program, but those were in larger communities that had many more warrants."
Eight people were arrested on felony charges. It is estimated that Mahoning County has 15,000 outstanding warrants.
Mahoning County's surrender program is the fourth held under the auspices of the Ohio Attorney General's office. There was one in Mansfield, as well as programs in Columbiana and Warren that occurred on the same day in July.
About 130 people turned themselves in during the Trumbull and Columbiana programs.
"We consider what was done this weekend a success," Oleksiak said. "This is 212 people who won't get into a confrontation with law enforcement officers during arrests that may happen on the streets or in their homes."
"Everybody is safe," he continued.
Oleksiak said one of the men who turned himself in knew he would be arrested when he walked through the door.
"He had a state probation violation," Oleksiak said. "I spoke to him before he came here. He knew there was nothing we could do to prevent the arrest, but he wanted to do it this way."
Because it takes about six months to put together one of these programs, Oleksiak does not expect another one in Ohio this year, but future programs in other cities could take place in 2013.
"It is unlikely we would do another in Youngstown and Warren anytime soon, but some other communities have done similar programs on their own," Oleksiak said.
Since restarting the program, DeWine's office has kept the cost down by having local law enforcement and courts volunteer their efforts.
"Other funding has come from private donations," he said. "There is no taxpayer money being used."
Law enforcement agencies, including the Youngstown, Austintown, Boardman, Canfield and Sebring Police Departments participated; the Mahoning County Sheriff's Office, the Youngstown Municipal Court, the Mahoning County Courts, Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, as well as the Bureau of Motor Vehicles participated.
The surrender site was located at First Presbyterian Church in Youngstown.