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City officials back chief on press relations

October 08, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and City Council members said at a work session Tuesday that they are satisfied with the Hagerstown Police Department's policy of releasing information to reporters.

Police Chief Dale J. Jones, who earlier sent a memo to council members, said the department does its best to accommodate the media.

The department drew fire from some quarters over its decision to withhold its report of a Sept. 11 YMCA swimming pool accident that claimed the life of 7-year-old Kari Trumpower.

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The memo states that the Maryland Public Information Act allows police to withhold investigation reports. It said reports are released to "parties of interest."

"We must assure the confidence of the public when they are parties to an incident as victims, witnesses or suspects," the memo states. "A liberal or irresponsible policy on releases could be extremely detrimental to our ability to accomplish our mission."

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the memo answered his questions.

He also faulted a Herald-Mail editorial that criticized the police for not reporting that a woman had been abducted in Hagerstown and raped in Pennsylvania two weeks ago. The report proved false the woman was charged with filing a false criminal report by the Maryland State Police.

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