Tracking deadbeat parents in Niagara County

(WIVB) – In our lives, we’re given many different jobs and responsibilities.

And, arguably, the most important is the role of being a parent.

The Niagara county sheriff’s office is cracking down on people who aren’t paying up.

News 4 tagged along with the Sheriff’s Office as deputies attempted to arrest those most wanted by the county.

The job proved to be difficult.

“He’s supposedly staying over there by an informant but we don’t have an address…” said a deputy serving a warrant.

No address, no phone number, no way to track down a parent.

But, that’s the job of these deputies.

“She said it was across from this Dorris center… so it could be here or across from those buildings,” said Deputy David Ganz.

The Niagara County Family Court has about 50 warrants issued right now for people who owe child support.

Typically the county deals with deadbeat dads… but not always.

“One of the girls we’re going to be looking for… her grandmother hides her all the time and I always have to go in and check the house,” said Deputy Ganz.

Searching the house proves to be no easy task

“They get creative,” said Deputy Ganz.

Deputies find parents hiding in basements, attics and closets.

They’re desperate to keep from being captured.

“We had a lady down the street here… she climbed out of an attic window up on a third story house and was holding on to the chimney,” said Deputy Ganz.

All of this, in an effort to elude authorities and get away with not paying to support their own children.

“You have to look at who suffers… it’s the child who suffers,” said Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour.

Voutour had a team of deputies ready to go the day we tagged along.

He says the issue of deadbeat parents isn’t widespread in the county.

But, it’s a major problem for the parent or guardian who’s trying to raise the child.

“I see it firsthand in the school systems where the kids really don’t have anything and the single parent at home is struggling to make ends meet, struggling to get clothes on the back of the child and to get lunch money so it’s a big issue,” said Voutour.

He’s concerned the kids of deadbeat parents may grow up to become deadbeat parents themselves.

“There’s 450 inmates in this jail and if we went and talked to any of them most of them are from broken homes, most of them are from single family parents and most of them are locked up because no one cared for them. And that’s not where you want to find your child in the next 10 or 15 years,” said Voutour.

Deputies have different strategies they use when they’re out serving warrants.

The day we rode along, the most effective tool was their ability to connect.

Deputy Ganz knocked on the door of a deadbeat parent and the man’s mother answered.

He got on the phone with the parent and tried to convince him to turn himself in.

“You need to go now… go let them pick you up vet this over with!” said the man’s mother.

“Mom, I’m gonna have anxiety…” said the deadbeat parent.

“People have been knocking at your moms door and I know you know we’ve been looking and we want to get this all cleared up,” said Deputy Ganz.

“The second time they’ve been at my door,” said the Mom.

Deputy Ganz was able to get the man to meet him at court.

It’s a major step in tracking down deadbeat parents and getting kids the money they deserve.

“Nothing in your pockets? Phone?,” said Deputy Ganz as he met the man on the steps of the courthouse.

“Your mom was not having it huh? Mom’s know best,” said Ganz.

Deputy Ganz wants people to be responsible and follow in this man’s footsteps.

In the meantime, the Sheriff has an important message for deadbeat parents.

In this world you have to have a license for everything but parenting is one thing you don’t have to have a license for… take some responsibility for your kids,” said Sheriff Voutour.

If you or someone you know owes money for child support payments, tell them to contact the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office at 716-438-3393.

Sheriff Voutour says it’s easier when people turn themselves in.

 

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