So what do you think of this? TV investigative reporter uses hidden camera to capture LA County assistant chief having a liquid lunch.

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FirefighterCloseCalls.com brought this story to my attention. It’s about a Los Angeles County Fire Department assistant chief who is now under investigation because a TV news reporter says he caught the chief drinking on the job. It’s another reminder that cameras are everywhere.

In this case, I am very interested in the back story that I didn’t find mentioned. What prompted the reporter to do this? One would guess a tip came in from a colleague or possibly someone at the restaurant.

When I was in the news business, I always looked at the real need for a hidden camera (I will admit it usually made me feel a bit sleazy in the few times I used it). What is it going to get that I can’t get with a camera out in the open? What is the value of the story that it would help capture? What wrong are we going to help right by going this route?

I also felt similarly about ambush interviews and tried to do them only when there was no other way to get a public official to talk. 

Now to the alcohol issue. Based on a story I posted on STATter911.com years ago about firefighters and drinking, I think I know what the reaction to this story is going to be and how it will be divided (if you have seen any of my presentations, you may know this answer). But I am curious if anything has changed since then. Let me know your thoughts on this story. Don’t be shy.

KCBS-TV:

Investigative reporter David Goldstein caught a high-ranking employee of LA County Fire allegedly drinking on the job.

Goldstein’s hidden cameras captured Vic Mesrobian, an assistant chief of County Fire’s information management department, drive off in a county fire vehicle and drink beer while on duty during lunch.

His formal title, Information Technology Manager, is a civilian position that pays $124,421.48 a year in taxpayer money.

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