While the accused killer was last Wednesday afternoon, parents were unsure if it was safe for their kids to get off the school bus and many Westport residents wanted answers.
An initial code red call informed Westporters of the situation early on and gave a description of the suspect, 35-year-old Thomas Gardner, of New Bedford, Massachusetts. After Gardner was in custody a Westport police commander made the decision to put out a second code red message to inform residents, according to Westport Police Chief Dale E. Call.
It was a desk officer who made the "mistake" within that announcement to request that residents refrain from calling police headquarters for more information, Call said. The message, instead, directed Westporters to WestportNow.com, which is In addition, of the town news website.
“There was no intention to direct more traffic to any one news source,” Call said. “The officer should have merely directed callers to check available news sources without naming any.”
“This is clearly not acceptable and has already been dealt with,” he said.
Both Call and Westport Police Captain Samuel Arciola said the code red message was “police business as usual,” noting the does not give “preferential treatment to any one news organization.”
“There was no first selectman hovering over saying ‘put this out there,’” Call said. “As a journalist, that would be a pretty significant breach of journalism at that point.”
Call explained he was unaware of the "code red issue" until reading one of the comments about it on Westport Patch.
"I saw the comment on (Patch) and I knew it was a problem," he said.
First Selectman Joseloff was unavailable for comment.
Did you get a code red call from Westport police last Wednesday? Tell us about it in the comments.
Editor's Note: The language in this article was changed in order to reflect the fact that a desk officer made the decision to mention WestportNow in the code red call.