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Police Resent Media Attacks for Smart Case News Leaks

Police Resent Media Attacks for Smart Case News Leaks

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Police union leaders complained Monday that they were being tried in the media for possible news leaks in the Elizabeth Smart investigation.

"I think there's going to be pressure to hang someone," said officer Lee Doborowolski, Salt Lake Police Association president.

Doborowolski said that Mayor Rocky Anderson's memo released Thursday ordering Police Chief Rick Dinse to discipline those who leaked information has tarnished the department.

Officers believe the memo also was a breach of protocol, Doborowolski said.

"I do know the mayor has made complaints on officers in the past, so he does know the process. ... The chief of police works for the mayor. Does the mayor need the media to get the chief to do what he wants?"

Anderson's memo, released with all names blacked out, gave Dinse until May 12 to provide a written account of what Dinse has done "to determine if any information, theory, speculation, rumor, or gossip" about the case had been disclosed without the chief's explicit permission.

The mayor further ordered that by May 19 Dinse must investigate and discipline anyone in the department who said anything not specifically permitted to reporters or members of the public about the case.

Elizabeth, then 14, was taken at knifepoint from her bed in the early hours of June 5, setting off a global media frenzy. She was found March 12 walking down the street of a Salt Lake City suburb with homeless drifter Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee.

Mitchell and Barzee are being held in Salt Lake County jail. Their trials are expected in the fall.

Doborowolski met Monday with mayoral challenger Frank Pignanelli and the three other members of the union executive committee to talk about the situation.

The union president said he would have appreciated a "heads-up" from the mayor that the memo was being released.

"This kind of media coverage that has been invited by the boss is unwelcome," he said.

Contents of the memo were published and broadcast in the media Friday.

That afternoon, Smart family attorney Randy Dryer said during a news conference that police and FBI officials leaked information about the case to two reporters for The Salt Lake Tribune who were later fired for selling information to the National Enquirer.

The tabloid retracted the story headlined "Utah Cops: Secret Diary Exposes Family Sex Ring."

Dryer also said officials with the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Secret Service gave details about the case to the reporters, Michael Vigh and Kevin Cantera.

Dryer said that as part of a legal settlement, the reporters gave him a list of their law enforcement sources. Dryer said he didn't investigate the reporters' claims but forwarded the list to the agencies. He refused to disclose the names publicly.

Anderson said Monday that neither he nor Dinse have the list. "I wish we did," the mayor said. "We need all the information we can get to do an investigation."

Anderson said it's possible other agencies may have been more involved with the leaks than the city police.

"I have been extremely conscious of the fact that people may unfairly generalize, and view the entire police department in the context of what a few may have done," Anderson said. "A lot of people attribute the source of that gossip to one or a few sources in the police department. I don't know if it's true or not."

Anderson said he would insist on fairness in the investigation, and said Dinse has been "very responsive" to the memo.

The union endorsed Anderson in his first run for mayor in 1999. They have not decided who to endorse yet this year.

Pignanelli said endorsements weren't mentioned during his closed-door conversation with the union members.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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