Media crush on Mecham sparks new policy, arrest rumors

Arizona Republic
November 28, 1987

Gov. Even Mecham has become so popular with the news media that reporters and photographers tend to cluster around him every chance they get.

About a month ago, after Mecham’s press secretary, Ken Smith, said the governor had been bopped in the mouth by a microphone, the Department of Public Safety instituted a policy designed to give Mecham some breathing room.

Earlier this week, Smith complained again about media crowds. What would the DPS do if reporters didn’t back off, Smith was asked.

“They might just arrest them. I don’t know,” Smith said.

Within minutes, word had spread through the Capitol complex that the DOPS was planning to arrest reporters.

Smith explained, “We are very concerned about the governor’s personal safety. This has nothing to do with aggressive reporters, it’s just crowd control. This is not directed at the media. If 42 Boy Scouts were following the governor around, the same rules would apply. If they got in his way and refused to move, they would be arrested.”

DPS Sgt. Allen Schmidt said there is no new policy with regard to the governor.

“It is not part of our policy to arrest reporters or anyone else unless they make an over or dangerous act or definitely refuse to cooperate as we try to move the governor from place to place.”