Advertisers find good use for billboard space

When trying to catch suspects wanted for murder, posting flyers in places around the community and the nation is a tactic commonly employed. This tactic has been used on a larger scale in recent years.

Roger Kemp, a man in the Kansas City area, decided to take the basic idea of a wanted poster to a whole new level. After losing his daughter, Ali, in mid-2002 at the hands of a killer, Kemp decided that something was needed to generate awareness of who this man was.

Armed with a composite sketch of the suspect and the suspect’s truck, Kemp approached Lamar Advertising. Lamar then put two billboards up at no charge, featuring the sketches. This method proved successful and led to the apprehending of the main suspect in Ali’s killing, Benjamin Appleby, in November 2004. Appleby has pleaded not guilty despite confessing to police that he committed the crime.

Lamar continued posting billboards with other criminal suspects in the Kansas City area, and “what followed was a seven-for-seven take down of some of the area’s worst fugitives,” America’s Most Wanted said on its Web site.

After observing the success that Kemp and Lamar had, AMW began to use billboards as a supplement to their weekly program, in conjunction with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.

By simultaneously placing a billboard in the city that a criminal is suspected to be in, along with the weekly broadcast over radio and TV, AMW has assisted in the capture of criminals, such as Phillip “Hollywood” Williams, who was arrested, and finally apprehended, for a 42nd time.

Placing billboards to aid in the hunt for murder suspects is a seemingly obvious solution to a problem that is not likely to disappear any time soon. It is an idea that surely has many law enforcement agencies scratching their heads, wondering why they didn’t think of it sooner.

It is a generous and smart move by agencies such as Lamar and OAAA to contribute ad designs and space to finding wanted criminals. This assists the police in doing their job and helps bring justice to families that have been affected by the loss of a loved one through a senseless act of murder.

Finally, media are being used to better society – as it has been in the case of AMW and OAAA or with Kemp and Lamar – instead of making it worse.