Police use runaway bride as recruiting tool

/ Source: The Associated Press

Jennifer Wilbanks, the bride-to-be who skipped town just days before her planned wedding in Georgia, has a new starring role in New Mexico — as the inspiration for a police recruiting billboard.

The Albuquerque Police Department plans to unveil the ad on 10 digital billboards across the city next week, the Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday.

“Running away from your current job? Call APD recruiting,” the ad reads, above a photo of Officer Trish Hoffman grabbing the veil of a bride, adorned in gown and wedding shoes.

Hoffman got national attention two years ago after Wilbanks landed in Albuquerque claiming she had been abducted before she was set to marry. Photos of Hoffman leading Wilbanks through the airport with a blanket over the runaway bride’s head appeared on televisions and in newspapers across the country.

Now, Hoffman will be on billboards.

“I am sure I am going to get some harassment,” she told the newspaper.

The ad will be up for a month at a cost of $16,000. Depending on the response, the department may incorporate it into fliers, posters and possibly TV ads.

“The runaway bride is one of those stories that people across the nation still talk about,” said Police Chief Ray Schultz. “We hope we can capitalize off of that.”

The department currently has fewer than 1,000 officers and is trying to build the force to 1,100 by this summer.