Tiger Woods or not, facility beefs up security

Published 12:08 am Friday, January 22, 2010

JACKSON (AP) — Police and hospital security patrolled the streets. Property owners asked for quiet. One business owner told of a photographer offering big money just to stand on his roof and snap pictures on the odd chance Tiger Woods appeared.

Whether or not Woods was in a Hattiesburg sex addiction clinic, neighbors made one thing clear Thursday: They want the paparazzi out.

One day after a celebrity Web site posted what it said were the National Enquirer’s first photos of Woods since his Nov. 27 car crash — and they sure looked like golf’s No. 1 player — authorities beefed up protection at the Pine Grove Behavorial Health and Addiction Services.

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Most obvious was a 100-foot stretch of fence at the rear of the compound, which had been raised by 5 feet to some 13 feet. Hattiesburg police and officers from Forrest General Hospital, which owns the clinic, were cruising in marked and unmarked cars, and they approached reporters who showed up.

The heightened security — even though there has been no confirmation that Woods is even at Pine Grove — at least made sure photographers would not have the same view as the one who snapped pictures of the man who resembled Woods.

The photos, posted by radaronline.com, showed pictures of a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and shorts and who could be seen through an open gate.

In the midst of all this media scrutiny, at least one local news outlet has taken a step back.

The Hattiesburg American newspaper published an editorial saying it would report on news involving Woods if there was any.

“There is a fine line between covering Woods when he wrecks his car and extending coverage when and if he gets treatment,” managing editor Dan Davis wrote. “Where does news end and privacy begin, even if the person involved is one of the most recognizable faces in the world? That’s a question that journalists debate constantly.”

Davis, who falls on the side of privacy, asked his readers what they thought.

“I think most of my readers think the same way that we do,” said Davis, the managing editor for seven years. “This is a privacy issue. One of the things I don’t think people know or understand is there are other patients at this facility that are getting caught up in this.”

Woods hasn’t been seen in public since crashing his SUV into a tree outside his Florida home, setting in motion a stunning downfall that eventually led to him admitting to infidelity and taking an indefinite break from golf.