Police in Newport News, Va., have found a new way to track down suspected criminals on the lam — put their names in the newspaper, says Editor & Publisher. It seems to be working. On Monday, the Newport News Police Department took out a two-page ad in The Daily Press listing nearly 4,000 people with outstanding warrants, in some cases dating back more than 10 years. As of Tuesday morning, 64 people listed had been arrested and processed, with several of them surrendering after reading about themselves in the ad. The ad, which ran in the paper’s A section on facing pages, listed 3,947 names, including some 1,000 suspects accused of felonies such as rape, robbery, and murder. Some were less-severe, such as failing to complete community service.
Police Chief James Fox, who took over in August, came up with the idea. He said the department took out the ad, at a cost of about $6,000, to reduce a backlog of cases that has overwhelmed investigators and topped 6,000 just a few years ago. “We had a lot of warrants on file, and this was a way to send a message,” Fox said. “It is the talk of the town.” Police were concerned that many of the suspects were likely still committing crimes. A federal Project Safe Neighborhoods grant is covering the cost of the ad, which listed only names, with no addresses, ages, or description of the offense.