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FBI Fugitives on Digital Billboards

Supervisory Special Agent Brett Hovington talks about a year-old partnership with digital billboard companies to capture fugitives.


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Supervisory Special Agent Bret Hovington, Chief, FBI Community Relations Unit: The digital billboards—in most cases it’s used to catch fugitives. And whether they're fugitives from justice at the federal level, or whether it's at the state or local level, these individuals are posted in the 45 field offices that are participating in the program.

The digital billboard is actually, it's using digital technology where we have a template that is created by the billboard company. Actually the very first template was created by Clear Channel; we use the same template for all of our four partners. A fugitive is actually posted, giving indentifying information, and just asking for the community to provide tips and information where we can take those leads and continue with the investigation.

A bulletin is usually posted—where one of our task forces, and that's usually where it comes from, between our partnerships with the federal, state and local agencies—where we have a fugitive from justice. That individual will be brought to our attention and then we will request that individual be posted on a local billboard, again with one of our four digital billboard affiliates. And from there, they actually post it pretty much at the drop of a dime.

What it means for the FBI: it now takes our investigation and adds that sixth man. The sixth man in basketball is very important and most of the time it's the audience. In a situation like this it lends eyes and ears to our investigations because it provides additional information that we just may not be able to run across in our day-to-day operation.

Moving forward I think when I look back over the year and a half that we've started this initiative, we've brought on four companies and I believe in the pipeline there are an additional two or three companies that are looking to partner. So, if I had to say where I would like to see this go is actually all digital billboards companies coming on board and participating.