Salt Lake City police apologize for confiscation of notes and videotape
UTAH — In late January, police apologized to a Salt Lake City newspaper and a local television station for ripping a page from a reporter’s notebook and seizing a cameraman’s videotape.
Ogden Police Chief Michael D. Empey and Lt. William M. Ladd sent written apologies to the Salt Lake City Tribune and KTVX-TV for seizing the material at the scene of the detonation of an explosive device in a package addressed to President Clinton.
The notes and videotape were seized in Ogden, where a U.S. Army bomb squad detonated the package, which contained an explosive light bulb, and retrieved a gun from inside another package addressed to Charles Manson, according to the Associated Press. The bomb squad asked the police to seize the material from the reporters, fearing that the videotape or notes might contain classified information about the squad’s procedures for bomb disposal, according to Tribune reporter Tom Wharton.
Wharton was handcuffed briefly after refusing to surrender his notes to police. Wharton said he allowed police to inspect portions of his notes after he was uncuffed, and a bomb squad member ripped a page out. The page was returned to the newspaper with the police apology.
Police also confiscated a videotape from KTVX-TV cameraman O.C. Budge, but Budge intentionally gave police the wrong videotape, according to Wharton. Before police arrived at his satellite truck, Budge overheard a police commander over his police band scanner order an officer to confiscate tape from the truck, and replaced his tape of the operation with a blank one, according to Wharton.
Both the newspaper and television threatened legal action after the seizures but now have accepted the apology.