NEW YORK – Tawan Hines has his name in lights on Broadway. Instead of bringing him fame, it could get him arrested.
The drug-trafficking suspect is among the first fugitives to have their names and mug shots on a digital billboard in the heart of Times Square. The FBI unveiled the equivalent of giant, flashing wanted posters there for the first time Friday, hoping to generate tips from tourists and others who flood the "crossroads of the world" each day.
"We hope we'll get a few calls about him," Belle Chen, head of the criminal division of the FBI's New York office, said as Hines' face filled the screen.
Clear Channel Outdoors offered the space to the FBI following a pilot program in Philadelphia that led to two arrests. The billboard sits above the entrance to the W Hotel, surrounded by lower-tech billboards advertising Broadway musicals.
Under the agreement with Clear Channel, the FBI has access to 430 other digital billboards in 33 cities. It can use them to publicize fugitives and missing children it believes might still might be in the area, and to make public safety announcements.
Hines evaded an FBI raid in Westchester County in November that resulted in dozens of arrests.
Another fugitive shown on the billboard Friday was chosen because she's suspected of kidnapping her daughter and hiding out Europe. Agents hope a European tourist might recognize her.
Tim Tompkins, the president of the Times Square Alliance, which works to promote the area as a destination for commerce and tourism, sees another benefit.
"As far as I'm concerned, this makes Times Square even safer," Tompkins said. "No bad guy is going to want to hang out in a place where there's a 100-foot image of him for all the world to see."