An activist for the homeless who was arrested in front of television cameras--a seizure arranged by a local television reporter--for being a parole violator has been placed back on parole, authorities said Tuesday.
William Hammond, 30, was arrested Feb. 3 when he was lured by Channel 39 reporter Paul Bloom with a request for an interview on homeless issues. According to several witnesses, Bloom asked a few questions about the homeless, then turned the interview to the issue of Hammond’s parole violation.
Moments later, Hammond was taken into custody by police and parole agents. Parole agents said that an arrest warrant had been issued for Hammond because he had not reported to his parole officer in several months. He was on parole for a 1985 conviction on possession of marijuana for sale.
Back on Parole
On Monday, Hammond was placed back on parole, said parole agent Gary Bonner. Bloom was subpoenaed to testify at Hammond’s parole hearing but failed to attend. Channel 39 General Manager Neil Derrough said Tuesday that the station’s attorneys managed to get the subpoena quashed.
Bloom, who had justified his role in Hammond’s arrest and had called him a “dangerous felon,” declined to comment Tuesday. “I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. But last month Bloom defended his participation in Hammond’s arrest. He said that, as a journalist, he saw “an opportunity to go interview a parole violator and, as a citizen, I notified his parole officer” and police.
Bloom, who reports a regular “Crime Watch” segment for his station, said that police alerted him to the fact that Hammond was a parole violator. At the time of the arrest, Bloom said:
“I don’t believe that journalistic ethics precludes me from setting up an interview with a wanted felon and then letting the police know.”
At the time of his arrest, Hammond was also charged with having access to a firearm and possessing a knife with a blade longer than two inches. The firearm charge resulted from information given to parole agents by Bloom, but apparently both weapons charges were dropped.
A week after the arrest, Bloom was criticized by the Society of Professional Journalists and by his own station. Bloom’s actions prompted the society’s board to issue a statement decrying “any appearance of duplicity while in collusion with law enforcement agencies.”
Channel 39 issued a statement charging Bloom with crossing “the fine line between reporter involvement and actual participation in this story.” Some of Bloom’s colleagues at the station said that they had ethical problems with the way Bloom reported and participated in the story.
When he was arrested, Hammond was working in the offices of local activists Denise and Al Ducheny. Al Ducheny said that he expects Hammond to be back at work today. The couple had complained bitterly about Bloom’s role in the arrest.
“You expect to have a certain degree of confidence in a reporter,” Denise Ducheny said. “You don’t expect a reporter to put you in a compromising position, much less bring a bunch of cops with him when he interviews you.”