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Westport Police Apologize for Emergency Message

WESTPORT, Conn. – After Westport police apprehended murder suspect Thomas Gardner following a four-hour search Wednesday, the department sent out a Code Red emergency telephone message alerting residents he had been captured.

At the end of the message, the caller told residents not to call police headquarters for information on the case, but to go to Westportnow.com , which is owned by Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, or "any of the network news." Directing residents to a particular news organization was a mistake, Police Chief Dale Call said in an email Thursday morning.

"This is clearly not acceptable and has already been dealt with," Call said in the email to local news editors. "There was no intention to direct more traffic to any one news source than others — there was a desire to reduce the numbers of phone calls coming into the emergency communications center, and the officer should have merely directed callers to check available news sources without naming any.

"The Westport Police Department does not single out any for preferential treatment or, for that matter, ignore any. Nevertheless, this did occur yesterday, and the Westport Police Department apologizes for that."

Like Call, Joseloff agreed it was inappropriate for the caller to direct residents to a particular website. Joseloff added that he did not instruct the caller to do so, nor did he write up the Code Red message.

"I write [the messages] when I do them, but not when I don't do them," Joseloff said Thursday night.

"That message was clearly done on the fly. In trying to get the word out very quickly that the guy had been captured, she told residents 'don't call us for information, but here's where you can find information.' It was fairly innocent. It won't happen again."

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