Lenny DePaul and the game of human hunting

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Lenny DePaul

Catching criminal masterminds is a tough job—they could be the most resourceful and tactical people anyone could ever meet. On the screen, however, no matter how difficult it is for investigators to catch them in the beginning, they always fall on authorities’ hands. The question is, does this hold true in real life?

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“Hunted,” a new US reality show that premiered in the Philippines on Wednesday, is set to find out if ordinary citizens—who are both tactical and resourceful—can actually flee from a force that is known to capture the slickest and craziest criminals.

As such, Hunted signs up nine teams of two—referred to in the show as “fugitives”—who will try to outrun a former commander of the US Marshals, Lenny DePaul, and his team of investigators composed of army veterans, FBI detectives and intelligence agents. A prize pot of $250,000 await each team who will surpass DePaul’s team for 28 days.

As former commander of the US Marshals New Yor and New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force, Depaul has spent more than 30 years hunting criminals, drug runners and terrorists.

With the reality show’s debut in the country, The Manila Times interviewed DePaul via email to get to know what happens behind “the world’s most elaborate game of hide-and-seek.”

The Manila Times: How is Hunted different from other reality shows?

Lenny DePaul: I think the entertainment part, that means for people to sit in their living room and an audience to sit there, “Man I was at the edge of my seat. This guy was wanted. What was he going to do? Why did he make that move? Why did he pick-up the phone? Why did she do that? It was intense.” It was received well around the United States. It was very entertaining. People love police shows for whatever reasons. “If I was the fugitive, what would I do to hide? I wouldn’t go there, I wouldn’t do that.” It was a guessing game for the audience.

How do you think Asians will receive the show?

We’re all humans. We all have that instinct that “If I was the fugitive, what would I do to elude capture? I would never be one but if I was, what could I do?” And to have law enforcers, to have professional men hunters out there who’ve done it for a very long time, chasing you—that brings a whole different cycle to this show. It’s scary for these ordinary citizens down the run and I think Asians will certainly enjoy watching every episode. They’ll be into it. They did in the UK, they continue to do a Season 3 there and we hope to get a Season 2 in the US.
How diverse are the participating teams of Hunted?

We had a husband and wife, a couple of husband-and-wife teams. We had two best friends out there. We had two females, there were moms out there trying to go on the run. We had one guy that was a criminal attorney and a former criminal and his girlfriend on the run. We had two Middle Eastern guys that were also on the run. They brought different things to the table for us, different backgrounds. Whether it was a religious background these guys, they’re not eating and they’re starving and not drinking and they’re passing out. Of course I didn’t know any of these stuff until I sat down and watched the episodes. Some of these teams went through hell to try to make it to 28 days. It was pretty interesting to see the cast, I mean the fugitives and how they were cast and how it developed. I had to sit down and watch the episode because I had no idea about any of them until it’s aired on television.

How does it feel to be a chaser in this real-life hunting game?

It was very exciting. Chasing human beings, even though it was a game show we didn’t look at it like that. The adrenaline kicked in as soon as the light turned green. As soon as we had to go, we just snapped into action and did our thing. And coupled with our cyber-intel sited in the command center where I was at, these people are geniuses. I had people that need to be interviewed. We certainly hit the ground running and once we get going on the investigation it doesn’t matter if it was a game show or you’re tracking down somebody that committed a triple homicide. You’re trying to find a human being, you’re trying to find somebody, so it’s really a challenge.

After your stint in the military, what other pursuits have you considered?

When I got out of the military, I worked in the construction a little bit. My family was in the horse racing business. I worked on the farm. I worked with horses for a little while, while I was waiting. I put an avocation in with the United States Secret Service. I was 17 years old when I enlisted in the Navy and five years at duty and then I was out for a little while and went right back to the government secret service and then I’ve been a latter transfer over US Marshall service where I spent the last 24 years in the fugitive business.

Would you encourage your children to follow your footsteps in the military?

I would not discourage them if they wanted to. I started early for free. I loved it so much. I enjoyed. I didn’t sit back when I was younger and knew that here’s what I want to do, I just kind of fell into it. I couldn’t afford to go to college so I enlisted in military and moved to my grandmother. I did everything on my own. I took the stairs up, I didn’t pick the elevator. I pretty much earned everything that I got and that’s what I’m teaching my kids that it’s not a free ride out there. It’s a tough world.

How has the reception been since the debut of Hunted in the US?

People love the show. Everybody I’ve bumped into is very eager and wants the second season to start. It is well received here in the United States and I think and I’m pretty positive that it’ll happen in the Philippines as well. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Hunted airs Wednesdays, 9 pm, on KIX (Cablelink Ch. 54, Cignal TV Ch. 264, Destiny Cable Ch. 63, Gsat Ch. 18, and SKY Cable Ch. 63).

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