The chief of Maryland’s airport police convened a press conference this afternoon to accuse a Baltimore Sun reporter of “unprofessional, unethical and intimidating tactics” in pursuit of a story.
Chief Gary W. McLhinney said Sun transportation reporter Michael Dresser attempted to persuade Officer Steve Benner to talk by mailing him an "intimidating" message on the back of a business card, according to Maryland Transportation Authority Police spokesperson Corporal Pamela Thorne.
Benner runs the airport’s “executive protection program,” which provides expedited escorts through security for dignitaries and other “high-profile” officials, said Thorne.
According to the spokesperson, the reporter's handwritten message was this: “We should talk. I know a lot of about what’s going on there. So does your possible next boss. The long-term prospects of the escort business looks [sic] grim. Let’s meet in a safe place.”
MdTA Police officers are prohibited from speaking to the press, according to Thorne.
Thorne said Benner received the business card at his airport office last Wednesday, and showed it to Chief McLhinney a day or two later. Thorne said McLhinney discussed the matter with Dresser’s editors at The Sun. “The editors said they didn’t see any problem with what Mr. Dresser did,” said Thorne.
Sun editor Tim Franklin issued this afternoon the following statement: "It is not The Sun's practice to intimidate any source into talking to us, and that was not the intention in this case, either. Our metro editor, Mike Leary, explained as much in a cordial phone with Mr. McLhinney yesterday. In light of that conversation, we were surprised that he chose to call a news conference today. Obviously, the police officer decided not to talk to us, and that's his prerogative."