Gulfport officer faces review for dead dog rumor

Published 5:13 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A police officer will appear at a confidential hearing this week over allegations he inadvertently started a rumor that dead dogs were found in freezers at two Gulfport restaurants.

Police Chief Alan Weatherford on Monday confirmed the hearing but would not identify the officer, citing confidentiality of internal affairs reviews.

Weatherford said the rumor was sparked by an e-mail sent by a police department investigator to a family member after the officer overheard a conversation between other investigators.

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The e-mail, dated Nov. 2, was forwarded to a small group of the family member’s friends, who in turn sent the e-mail to others, Weatherford said.

The Mississippi Department of Health also received the e-mail. The message identified one restaurant by name and the other by general location.

“I sincerely regret any inconvenience the incident may have caused citizens or the restaurants,” Weatherford said. “It is a personnel matter and we are addressing it.”

Weatherford said a retraction was e-mailed but it apparently wasn’t forwarded as freely as the rumor.