June 15th, 2007
South Florida arrest inquiry
By Holly Fisher
The South Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has asked the Miami-Dade Police Department to open an inquiry into the February arrest of television journalist Michael Kirsch who had been investigating allegations against the department and its director, said Chapter President Darcie Lunsford.
A chapter committee began an informal investigation last month into the February arrest of Mr. Kirsch. The reporter contends he was assaulted and treated harshly with no provocation during a traffic stop near his home when he was off-duty with his family. The SPJ committee led by Lunsford and board members Sam Terilli, Julie Kay, Bill Hirschman and John Hopkins reviewed several documents and interviewed Mr. Kirsch.
While the committee continues to look into the matter and has requested police records, it felt there are sufficient questions meriting an official inquiry by the department.
As a result, the chapter sent a letter this month to Director Robert Parker requesting “a department inquiry into how the officer responded once Mr. Kirsch, employed at the time as an investigative reporter at WFOR CBS 4, stepped out of his automobile at the roadside.”
The letter continued, “Nobody should be subjected to detention that is not made necessary and appropriate by the circumstances and the actions of the individual. Nor should police behavior in any case degrade or punish a member of the public. Any punishment should follow charges and judicial action. Mr. Kirsch believes he was subjected to unnecessarily harsh treatment. “
The letter added, “This minor traffic stop and the exchange between the officer and Mr. Kirsch appear to have escalated beyond all reason. Even the state’s attorney appears to find the multiple felony charges against Kirsch, including assault on a police officer, questionable dropping all to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence. Mr. Kirsch is contesting this. “
For more information, contact Darcie Lunsford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-949-7523, or our website http://www.spjsofla.net/