Elections

Clip With Limited Context, Mystery Origins Leads To Press Conference From Law Enforcement Supporters


Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

A 12 second audio clip was the reason supporters of law enforcement held a press conference Monday to ask Democratic congressional candidate Scott Wallace for an apology.

Bensalem Public Safety Director Fred Harran, who serves as president of the Police Chiefs Association of Bucks County, led the press conference that included reporters from print, online, and TV media organizations. He denounced the 12 second clip of what is purported to be Wallace saying “dogs are smarter than police officers.”

The short clip included no context and attempts by this news organization to speak with the person who recorded the clip or obtain a full recording over the past several days were unsuccessful.

Harran, Bucks County Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Bob Bray, a representative from the Philadelphia FOP, and Maureen Faulkner, the widow of murdered Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, all called for Wallace to apologize.

Harran and Bray both said they did not hear the full comments made during the conversation but found the words spoken by Wallace insulting.

When pressed by reporters, Harran reiterated he did not know the full context of the conversation, where Wallace was recorded, or who recorded it. He defended calling a press conference on the 12 second clip because of what was said, claiming that the media often plays clips of police officers with limited context following officer-involved incidents.

“The only context in which I would have said such a thing is in praising the ability of dogs to sniff out drugs or explosive material. I have written comprehensive crime legislation in the U.S. Senate and worked on numerous projects for the U.S. Department of Justice to make the nation’s criminal justice systems more effective at preventing crime and making communities safer. I have the deepest respect for police and first responders who every day stand ready to take a bullet to keep us safe.  I praise their courage and selflessness,” Wallace said via email.

The Democrat has appeared in election season ads with Democratic Bucks County Sheriff Milt Warrell and received support from several law enforcement officials.

Citing previous misleading ads, Wallace campaign manager Eric Nagy called out Republicans for “relying on 12 seconds of audio from an unidentified source, and an unidentified time, date, and place.”

“Scott has a deep respect for our police officers and has support from local law enforcement – and Scott has worked his entire career alongside law enforcement to reform our criminal justice system and write comprehensive crime legislation in the Senate,” he said.

Warminster Board of Supervisors members Brian Munroe, a former police officer and military veteran, said: “I know Scott and I support him for Congress because I know he respects our officers – he’s been working alongside law enforcement his entire career and knows how to keep our communities safe.”

Incumbent Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick’s campaign did not comment on the recording, and Harran said the campaign did not sanction the press conference.

Fitzpatrick is a former FBI special agent and has received the endorsement from the Bucks County FOP, Montgomery County FOP, Pennsylvania FOP, and Republican Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub. Bray said the Bucks County FOP endorsement was made months ago.

The short audio clip first appeared last week on the conservative Free Beacon news site, which claimed a First Congressional District resident provided the recording. It quickly was picked up by other right-leaning outlets. Copies of the clip were also sent to local news organizations.


About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for five years for both newspaper and online publications. In 2012, Tom was honored at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation's Keystone Press Awards for his coverage of President Obama's visit to Falls Township in 2011. When he's not covering news in the area, Tom enjoys checking out the newest restaurants and bars, exploring forgotten places of industry in the area, going to local parks and spending time with his friends and family. If there's one thing you should know about Tom, he is a local news junkie through and through. Email: tom@newtownpanow.com Phone: 215-431-1001