(05/14/2002)
Press release www.hurherald.com

State Police Trooper Fred Hammack, after denying public access and ordering The Hur Herald away from a "plain view" accident on May 4 in Calhoun County, told at least three local emergency service employees and a fire chief, he was following a written directive from Charleston.

He apparently mis-represented the situation.

Major D. R. Searls, after a Freedom of Information request, has advised The Hur Herald, "The requested document is not known to exist in our agency."

Hammack claimed a letter or memo was sent to him or his agency saying not to allow The Hur Herald at State Police scenes. He also said a copy of the directive was sent to The Herald. He said the matter had been researched by their (State Police) lawyer.

The Herald said Trooper Hammack was barking illegal orders, stating photographs were not allowed in "plain view" situations. He was repeatedly asked if there was a violation of law.

The Herald has said the officer violated First Amendment rights, the laws of the State of West Virginia and acted in a manner unprofessional to an officer.

A professional misconduct complaint has been filed against Trooper Hammack by the Herald.

"We report the news of this community in a fair and accurate manner," said Editor Bob Weaver. "An ongoing pattern of denying access by the State Police is very frightening, and should concern every citizen."

See earlier stories in The Herald regarding this situation.


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