Tennessee Sheriff Launches ‘Busted Bingo’ To Round Up People With Warrants
“Kiss your boyfriend goodbye.”
“The men in black are coming for you.”
So says the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department in Tennessee, which recently announced a game to decide who to round up and jail for outstanding warrants. Entitled Busted Bingo, the game has the look and feel of a typical televised lottery. But instead of money or a tropical vacation, victors are rewarded with an “all-inclusive stay at the Sullivan County Correctional Facility.”
Busted Bingo is hosted by Sheriff Wayne Anderson and posted on YouTube. In episode one, a man with a thick country accent explains the game’s purpose, as an upbeat country theme song blares in the background: simply put, the department has “too many warrants.” In order to pick and choose which ones to enforce, the department created a board with 24 numbered mugshots and Anderson selects a corresponding numbered ball from a spinning wheel. The lucky person’s photograph, birth date, alleged offense, and home address are then plastered on the screen for all to see.
“Girl, you might as well cowgirl up,” Anderson tells the first winner. “Come on in. Kiss your boyfriend goodbye. Give your mama a big hug. ‘Cause if you don’t, we’re gonna come and get ya.”
According to the Herald Courier, the sheriff’s department has over 17,000 warrants — 7,572 of which are active. Anderson considers Busted Bingo an “innovative way” to inform the public and fulfill his statutory duty to serve the warrants.
The first episode of Busted Bingo has amassed more than 38,800 views, and garnered some positive audience feedback. But the game has also sparked outrage among many viewers who consider it unprofessional, reductive, and harmful.
“People do bad things, but making light of their humanity due to those usually small infractions, is far worse,” said one critic on YouTube. “Go arrest who you need to, to keep the community safe, but this kind of trivialization of American justice is just f***ing gross,” said another.
But Anderson is undeterred by the negative comments. “I know some people didn’t like it,” he said. “No matter what you do in this job, you’re always going to have critics. I think it’s going to work out really good.”
In fact, there is no end in sight for the game. The sheriff’s department intends to serve all 24 warrants and then start from scratch.