The Federal Bureau of Investigation has redesigned its "Most Wanted" Web site, bolstering it with new features and organizational tools to improve how people can search for fugitives the agency is seeking to apprehend.
The move follows a redesign of the FBI site itself, as the agency continues efforts to improve transparency and how it engages with the public to meet the demands of the Obama administration's Open Government Directive.
The revamped Most Wanted site now allows people to not only view fugitive and missing-person mug shots, but also use search criteria -- such as location, gender, type of crime, reward, and even postal codes -- to narrow and focus what they are looking for. The FBI has about 600 open cases on its Web site of people it's seeking.
The FBI has historically used leads and tips from the public to catch criminals that have eluded the agency. Prior to the existence of the Web, the agency's main source of seeking assistance was to hang posters with people's photos and information in federal buildings such as post offices. The agency also used television programming to alert the public to fugitives.
It still uses these forms of media to engage the public, but beginning in the 1990s, the Internet gave it a new venue to help in investigations. The FBI first posted online the posters it would hang publicly, but eventually expanded its efforts through the Most Wanted site.
The Most Wanted redesign categorizes people the agency is looking for as "wanted fugitives," "missing persons," and "seeking information." It also works across agencies, including links to fugitives that agencies such as the U.S. Secret Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration also are looking for.
The site also now presents information in a more visually organized way, featuring a blue profile box for each person of interest. Visitors to the site can click through the box to read a summary of why the person is wanted by the FBI, as well as find a physical description, any aliases the person might be using, and more information. Profiles also contain links to the traditional FBI posters.
To date, the agency said it has solved 56 cases as a direct result of Web site publicity, according to the investigative publicity and public affairs unit, which runs the Most Wanted section.