Electronic Billboards Help Winnebago County Track Down Wanted Criminals


Law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin and across the country are using electronic billboards to track down wanted criminals.

Most recently, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s department began posting pictures along a stretch of State Highway 41, the county’s most highly traveled road. Three electronic billboards flash pictures of people wanted on warrants.

The agency has long posted the information on its website and in local newspapers. “It’s something we’ve always done,” says Lieutenant Lara Vendola-Messer. “The billboard is just a new format for us. It’s just a bigger version of it.”

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Vendola-Messer says several other Wisconsin sheriffs’ departments use the same tactic, and that the pictures are those of some of the most serious offenders.

“One was maintaining a drug trafficking place and possession with intent to deliver marijuana,” says Vendola-Messer. “Another was for possession with intent to deliver cocaine as well.”

The county does not offer rewards for information, but Vendola-Messer says the area crime watch may. Use of the billboards was donated by a local sign company.