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9/03/2005

"NBC sends armed guards to lawless Gulf Coast"

NBC News has sent private security personnel to the increasingly dicey Gulf Coast region to help keep its employees safe while covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The private security officers, usually former soldiers or police, are licensed to carry firearms and are trained to keep the situation under control so that journalists can do their jobs safely. That's becoming increasingly difficult in New Orleans and in Gulfport, Miss., where there aren't enough police or National Guardsmen to keep the streets safe. . . .

It's not unusual for networks to hire security forces. Armed personnel accompany news crews in Iraq and Afghanistan; they've been used domestically for situations like the Los Angeles riots in 1992, when dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured. But NBC News is the first to publicly acknowledge that it had taken such a step. . . .

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