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Patrol officers allowed to talk to media at accident scenes

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Patrol officers allowed to talk to media at accident scenes 10/20/97 WYOMING--The Wyoming Highway Patrol in early September adopted a…

Patrol officers allowed to talk to media at accident scenes

10/20/97

WYOMING–The Wyoming Highway Patrol in early September adopted a new policy that will allow police officers at automobile accident scenes to speak with reporters.

The policy replaces rules that required officers to refer reporters to a spokesperson in Cheyenne. The old policy sometimes gave the media and public the impression that there was a cover-up, one official told The Associated Press.

The policy states that all officers “are expected to impartially cooperate with the news representatives as those representatives seek to gather factual, public information pertaining to activities of the department.”

It adds that “the very nature of reporting necessitates the immediate gathering of factual information and most often the best source of such information is the officer handling the incident.”

Officers can, however, still refer reporters to the Cheyenne spokesperson if they do not feel comfortable dealing with reporters, if they lack the time to do so or if the accident turns into “a major event” involving numerous injuries or sensitive information. (Memo 97-52)