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‘Busted Bingo’ tarnishes image of law enforcement

Editorial Board • Nov 27, 2017 at 3:47 PM

We support any effort to bring those accused of legal misbehavior to justice. But Sheriff Wayne Anderson’s “Busted Bingo” seems a bit much.

It’s a weekly video produced at the department wherein someone the department is searching for on an outstanding warrant is given attention, with the hope that person will surrender or be turned in by those who know where they are.

As touted with a tongue-in-cheek press release from the department’s public information officer, each week’s “winner” will receive “an all-inclusive stay at the Sullivan County correctional facility.”

“It’s an innovative way to capture people’s attention,” Sheriff Wayne Anderson told us. “We only have X number of deputies here, but thousands and thousands of citizens who will watch this and might know where these people are.”

The premiere video began with department employees at work, while a voice-over explained, “The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office has too many warrants, so the men in black are coming for yooouuu!” Following the intro, the show’s “host,” Anderson, stood in front of a large bingo-style display, featuring offenders’ faces in the blocks. A hopper was turned by Chief Deputy Lisa Christian, who then reached in to retrieve a bingo ball.

Anderson read the number selected, referenced the board to find the corresponding offender, and then said, “We’re going to make a star out of O-10.” The “winner” was a Bristol, Tenn., woman wanted for failure to appear and theft of property.

Having identified her, Anderson said to the camera, “Girl, you might as well cowgirl up, come on in, kiss your boyfriend goodbye, give your momma a big hug cause if you don’t we’re gonna come and get you and bring you to jail.”

The department didn’t have far to go. The woman was already in jail in Bristol, Va.

The program is corny and goofy to say the least. And who knows, maybe it will be successful and every week the person highlighted in “Busted Bingo” will be apprehended.

We get that the sheriff is trying to be innovative, and we applaud him for trying something “different.” But is this the image we truly want from our law enforcement community? If they want to have a little fun, how about giving out ice cream cones to exemplary drivers?

When hunting down those with outstanding warrants, let’s keep it professional. That’s what we want and need from those sworn to serve and protect.

Anything less tarnishes the image.

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