Santa Barbara’s KEYT-TV showed footage of last weekend’s Deltopia riot near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, then told viewers that “we’ll be sharing all that video with the sheriff’s department and the district attorney’s office.”
The Romenesko reader who tipped me off to KEYT’s actions writes: “While posting the video online would make it available to law enforcement as public record, they point out they are volunteering this material to the local authorities. There is no concern about precedent, or being perhaps viewed as agents of law enforcement with their actions.”
KEYT-TV’s cozying up to law enforcement didn’t end there, though. Its newsroom staffers posted “WANTED” tweets (“We captured his face on cam. See if you recognize him”) and asked viewers to help catch “Sheriff Brown’s #1 suspect.”
My tipster writes: “This was one of the most public displays of cooperation with law enforcement I have seen from a station.”
But that’s not surprising, considering this: Victoria Sanchez, the reporter covering the riot, is the daughter of Santa Barbara chief of police Camerino Sanchez, while KEYT news anchor Paula Lopez is married to Santa Barbara County Judge Frank Ochoa.
KEYT-TV news director Jim Lemon tells me he decided to give the video to the sheriff and D.A. because “I knew I was going to get subpoenaed.”
“I thought it’s better to be upfront about what you’re going to do” and tell viewers the station is giving up the footage.
“I’ve had a few folks ask if we’re an arm of law enforcement, but the answer is no.”
* KEYT staffers describe being in the middle of the riot (Keyt.com)
* Santa Barbara spring break party morphs into a riot (npr.org)
* Listen to the station announce that it’s giving the video to law enforcement (soundcloud.com)