Northwest Florida

SPECIAL REPORT: Take an inside look into the Wheel of Fugitives

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) - What sounds like a game is leading to some serious results when it comes to finding fugitives. 

It's called the Wheel of Fugitives and the Escambia County Sheriff's office gave News 5 an inside look.

Sgt. Melony Peterson says they have been doing the wheel for about a year now, and the success rate has been about 90 percent.

"So far 31 arrests," Peterson said. "That is incredible for only doing this for one year."

Peterson, along with Public Information Officer Amber Southard, are the ones who do the spinning.

"We just hand select twelve wanted fugitives from our area, we put them on the wheel, we spin it each week, and we pick a lucky winner, or an unlucky winner," Peterson said.

 

On top of the social media campaign, deputies also plaster their faces on billboards throughout the county.

 

Some of the arrests include Bryan Harris, who was arrested on four charges tied to the Wedgewood shooting back in April where two teens were shot. He had other charges that landed him on the wheel back in 2017.

The show has become very popular with the community.

"I think it gets the picture out and people will keep an eye out and they can identify a face with a criminal," John Stilwell said.

"I think it's been so much of a success because people use Facebook as a news outlet," Erin Picker said. "I think it's a better way to find people and get their faces out there."

But not everyone thinks the sheriff's office is taking the right approach when it comes to finding fugitives.

"I still think it's in bad taste," Chris Jadalleh said. "I still think it's a person and to make a game out of it is not cool."

Deputies say if someone provides a tip that leads to an arrest, they could be rewarded up to $3,000.

 


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