Walter Mencken 11:31 a.m., Feb. 1
SDPD Detective's Role As Press-Pass Monitor Questioned in Lawsuit
Getting into a press conference should be a relatively simple task for members of the media. Well, not in San Diego County where one man, Detective Gary Hassen, a spokesperson for the San Diego Police Department, acts as the press-pass monitor with the authority to deny certain journalists and publications that he sees fit, or rather unfit.
Now, according to the North County Times, Hassen's reign as monitor is being questioned. Last week, a news outfit based in Connecticut, American News and Information Services, filed a lawsuit contesting the policy after a freelance videographer had his pass revoked.
But the videographer is not the only one who Hassen has rejected.
This correspondent is also on the list of reporters not allowed into certain press conferences.
In August of last year, I sent an application for a press pass to Hassen so that I could attend a briefing by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. In my application, I provided a link to hundreds of articles that I have written over a five-year span for The Reader as well as other publications.
With the deadline looming, I left a phone message for Hassen pleading with him to issue a pass and grant permission into the Sheriff's Department press conference.
Thinking the tone might ruin my chances, I sent the following email dated September 1, 2011:
"I was wondering if you have had a chance to look over my press card application, yet. I apologize for my previous emails on this and would really like to attend tomorrow's press conference. Could you please let me know the status, whenever you get a chance?"
Later that day Hassen sent the following email:
"Your application has been denied. In order to qualify, you must show a need to cross fire and police lines. Your material showed community interest, entertainment, etc."
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