Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today on learning that the details of WFOS TV-CBS 4 reporter Mike Kirsch have been put back on the “Be On the Look-Out” section of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association’s website (www.bcpba.org) in South Florida. Kirsch has complained about this to the authorities in vain. Reporters Without Borders once again calls for the withdrawal of this wanted notice.
13.4.06 - TV reporter’s details removed from police association website
The details of WFOR TV-CBS 4 reporter Mike Kirsch have been taken down from the “Be On the Look-Out” section of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association’s website (www.bcpba.org) in South Florida. The association had posted his name there in revenge for a controversial report about the South Florida police in which a hidden camera was used.
Kirsch told Reporters Without Borders he was pleased with the development but pointed out that a “wanted notice” for him in the form a leaflet continues to circulate in the Miami region police stations where he carried out his investigation.
07.04.06 - TV reporter’s name posted in police website’s wanted section in retaliation for hidden camera report
Reporters Without Borders today condemned a Florida police association for posting the name of WFOR TV-CBS 4 reporter Mike Kirsch in the “Be On the Look-Out” (BOLO) section of its website, which is normally reserved for fugitives from justice and missing persons. This was done after Kirsch used a hidden camera to produce a report about the difficulty of filing a complaint against a police officer in South Florida police stations.
“As much as the police have a right to question Kirsch’s use of a concealed camera, it is unacceptable for them to retaliate by circulating his details as he were a dangerous individual,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Aside from the fact that it smacks of childish revenge and tale-telling, it is a violation of civil rights. We therefore call for Kirsch’s name to be taken down from the www.bcpba.org site.”
Kirsch produced his report at the beginning of the year with the help of the Police Complaint Centre, a police watchdog group. Equipped with a concealed camera, volunteers tried to file complaints in 38 police stations in Miami-Dade and Broward, two neighbouring counties in South Florida. Most of the time they met with hostility. According to CBS 4, only three police stations cooperated.
Kirsch himself showed the footage they had shot to two senior Miami police officials before the report was screened at the start of February.
The Broward County Police Benevolent Association quickly reacted by posting Kirsch’s details in the BOLO section of its website. It was temporarily withdrawn when CBS 4’s lawyers protested. But Kirsch’s name and photo were put back on 17 March along with the address and mobile phone number of Gregory Slate, one of the Police Complaint Centre’s volunteers. An accompanying warning says the two men could try to entrap police officers and could be driving a red and black Ford Mustang car, of which the licence number is given.
Despite repeated complaints by CBS 4’s lawyers and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and enquiries by Reporters Without Borders yesterday, Kirsch’s name is still on the www.bcpba.org site.