1970: Iowa Department of Public Safety returns seized film to Daily

Offer no apology: Agents return seized Daily film

DES MOINES, IA. — State Department of Public Safety officials this summer returned film allegedly taken by force from Iowa State Daily University Editor Scott Jacobs during an incident at Ames City Hall last spring, but declined to explain the film-taking action.

The film was returned July 1 in a meeting here between Daily representatives, their attorney and Department of Public Safety officials. During the meeting State Narcotics Agent Roger Stephens and Assistant to the Commissioner for Public Safety Tom Danaher said further pursuit of the incident would have to be done in court. But they warned court action from The Daily could bring information from narcotics intelligence that Daily representatives might not want disclosed. The state officials refused to explain their threat.

State officials said the return was with no strings attached, but requested the pictures not be published.

Included in the pictures were Stephens and three college-age undercover co-workers. Other photographs seized by the narcotics agents were anti-war protesters involved in a May 7 demonstration at the Story County Selective Service Office as they were brought to city hall.

Stephens said during the meeting, “the film came into my possession” and would comment no further.

University Editor Jacobs, who took the pictures, said the four narcotics agents approached him after he had taken their pictures and requested that he give them the film.

Jacobs said he refused and told the agents the pictures were taken for The Daily.

Ames Detective Stanley Kacher took Jacobs and the four agents to his office in the basement of city hall so Jacob’s position could be verified by phone, Jacobs said.

Detective Kacher left the room, Jacobs said, leaving him alone with Stephens and his three assistants. Jacobs said the agents made no attempt to call the Daily office for verification.

“The door was locked from the inside. The agents then muscled the camera away from me and took the film from it,“ Jacobs said.

Daily Photo Editor Steve Ward said the camera had not worked since the incident. He said the shutter had been punched out, apparently during the process of removing the film.

Stephens and Danaher declined to comment on the details of the incident. Danaher said the agents had not acted out of line. “I will not tolerate the use of the word seized when talking about how we got the film,” be added.

Stephens said he wanted the film because he didn’t want his picture taken. The three young men with him perform as undercover investigators of drug traffic and use for the narcotics division.

The agents had testified in a preliminary hearing for three persons arrested on drug charges before being photographed.

The Daily Publications Board hired James Brewer, a local attorney, to negotiate the return of the film.

Photo caption: ‘Cover up’
Roger Stephens, (lower right} state narcotics agent holds up a briefcase to prevent picture taking of other narcotics agents and state narcotics informants. Following the episode, Stephens and the other agents seized the film from Daily University Editor Scott Jacobs.

“Agents return seized Daily film,” Iowa State Daily. 8 Sep 1970.

I don’t have context for this story. I came across it while going through the archives and found the narrative pretty fascinating.

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