Volusia County church program forgives outstanding warrants



VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Many believe going to church can save your soul -- but can it save you from jail time??

Operation “Safe Surrender” starts next Tuesday at the Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Daytona.

It's a chance for anyone in Volusia County with an outstanding warrant to turn themselves in and recoup a fall from grace.

Church leaders are teaming up with Volusia County law enforcement for the third year in a row to run the operation.

"Many of them have been ducking and running for a long time," said the Rev. Dr. L. Ronald Durham.

Those with warrants will go through a three-step process. First, they'll come to the lobby to be registered, then they'll enter the church and sit with a volunteer who will talk to them about their decision to come forward. Finally, they'll be taken to a conference room where they will have their first appearance with a judge on closed-circuit television.

Low-level offenses could be taken care of on the spot.

"We pray that we will be able to help them to get those warrants expunged, and they can once again have a fruitful and productive life as citizens of Daytona and Volusia County," said Durham.

Police Chief Michael Chitwood said there are thousands more still on the run.

WFTV asked Chitwood if the program is in any way letting them off easy.

"No, it's giving them an opportunity to come into a nice, safe environment," replied Chitwood.

Over the past two years, 200 people have turned themselves in as part of the program.