FBI Using Billboards in Fight Against Albany Corruption

ALBANY (AP) -

Each workday, thousands of state workers commute from their suburban neighborhoods to the many state buildings scattered throughout New York’s capital city. Based on Albany’s remarkable penchant for corruption, odds are that a few of them have a story the feds would like to hear.

That’s where the big signs on the highway come in.

Authorities have turned to using digital billboards along the interstate to urge citizens to report crooked politicians, dirty bureaucrats and other bad actors, the latest indication of just how big a problem political corruption has become in Albany.

The signs, which went up earlier this year, are emblazoned with the words “REPORT CORRUPTION,” all in capital letters, above the number for a telephone tip line and FBI website. The idea came from the New York Public Corruption Task Force, which includes the FBI, the IRS, the state comptroller and the state attorney general.

“The public plays an integral role in helping law enforcement root out corruption,” said Andrew Vale, the FBI’s special agent in charge at the Albany division. “Which is why we try to make it easier to come forward and report suspected abuse.”

Authorities won’t say whether they’ve seen an uptick in tips since the signs went up, or whether they’ve led to new investigations. Evidence from other states, however, suggests the signs could yield results: the police department in Janesville, Wisconsin, reported that calls tripled after the department started putting information about wanted suspects and anti-crime messages on billboards.