- Associated Press - Saturday, October 14, 2017

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) - The Attorney General’s Office says a northern Idaho sheriff’s office did not violate any laws when it concealed records to unsuccessfully hide an ongoing murder investigation.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that the Idaho Press Club filed a public corruption complaint with the Attorney General’s Office earlier this year after the newspaper reported county officials attempted to scrub references to a killing from public dispatch records.

Deputy Attorney General Paul Panther said in an October 10 letter that Sheriff Daryl Wheeler called for certain records to be removed from public view but did not destroy the original record.

“Our investigation determined that dispatch call records relating to the April 2017 homicide were initially available to the public,” Panther wrote. “Sheriff Wheeler thereafter directed that those records be removed from the website, but the original dispatch call records were unaffected and remained intact.”

Idaho law prohibits officers from destroying, stealing or altering official governmental records.

The newspaper found the scrubbed records using a cached version of earlier web pages.

The sheriff has since demanded removal of the reporter who broke the story.

“As the president of the Idaho Press Club, it still seems to me to be wrong for a public official to hide public records from the public - particularly records that could be critical to the public’s safety, such as the news that there’s been a murder and the perpetrator is on the loose,” said Betsy Russell, who is also a reporter for the Spokesman-Review, in an email response to the AG’s office.

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Information from: Bonner County (Idaho) Daily Bee, https://www.bonnercountydailybee.com

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