(10/03/2009)
The West Virginia State Police have issued results on an internal inquiry on Cpl. Douglas Starcher, following a complaint issued by the Hur Herald.

The complaint stemmed from an incident on a public highway where officer Starcher confiscated a camera belonging to the Hur Herald, after issuing a warning that taking photographs of a federal building is not legal.

The Herald was photographing activity at the entrance to an armory, not the building, where a bomb threat had reportedly been made.

The internal investigation, according to Cpt. Gordon Ingold, found no wrong doing by Cpl. Starcher, saying "A review of the facts surrounding the incident has uncovered no chargeable actions...this case has been closed as exonerated and no further action will be taken in this matter."

The State Police also denied a Freedom of Information request by the Herald to sustain under what law or under what circumstances the officer confiscated the camera.

The Herald requested any reports or documentation related to the taking of the camera that would clear such justification.

The denial, issued by Virginia Lanham of the West Virginia State Police's legal division, used part of WV's Freedom of Information law, a loophole the agency frequently cites as an exemption, "Records of law-enforcement agencies that deal with the detection of crime and internal records and notations of such law enforcement agencies which are maintained for internal use on matters relating to law enforcement."

If the confiscation of the camera was under a violation of Homeland Security rules, it did not meet those guidelines.

If the confiscation of the camera was under a violation of Homeland Security rules, it would be the first incident of record in the State of West Virginia.

The Herald maintains it has a right to know under WV Code or any semblance of constitutional law how a police officer can take anyone's camera.

"Apparently such information can be withheld under the exclusive power of the WV State Police," wrote the Herald, "The abuse of police powers should be of serious concern to all citizens and the WV Legislature who allows such conduct to continue."

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