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Hugh Emerson Munn

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College mourns death of faculty member Hugh Munn

Hugh Munn, an instructor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, died Friday, October 19, 2012, after an extended illness.

If you would like to contribute thoughts and memories of Hugh to this website, please email the webmaster with your comments which will be posted to this website.

Chris Robert quoteRead more about Hugh in the article below and at the following links:

  • State loses a champion of public’s right to know
    South Carolinians lost a friend when Hugh Munn died recently at age 70.
    Many might not recognize that name, but that doesn’t change the fact that Munn was a friend to Palmetto State residents even if their paths never crossed.
  • In memory of Hugh Munn (YouTube Video)
    Watch >
  • Role in Caffey case is example of SLED spokesman's impact
    As he did not forget patrolman’s killing, S.C. should not forget his career as a model in need of emulating today.
    Read more>
  • 200-year-old Philadelphia newspaper reveals link to construction of College
    A surprising package ...
    When advertising and public relations professor Hugh Munn opened a package sent by his old friend and former neighbor Rhonda Ungericht, he wasn't sure what to make of its contents – a tattered, yellowed newspaper, titled "The Aurora General Advertiser," published March 23, 1802. Read more>
  • On the Alert: National PSAs written by journalism instructor
    When Hugh Munn talks about crisis communications, people across the nation listen – especially police and prosecutors.
    Read more>

Reprinted from The State - Friday, Oct. 19, 2012

Longtime spokesman of South Carolina's SLED agency dies

By Roddie Burris - rburris@thestate.com

 

Hugh Munn, the first public information officer for the State Law Enforcement Division, died Friday at Lexington Medical Center.

He was 70 years old.

Munn joined SLED, the state's lead police force, in 1976, after working for years as a journalist, including at The State newspaper.

For many in South Carolina, Munn became "the face of SLED," standing before cameras at the thresholds of major crime scenes across the state, explaining fatal tragedies to the general public, delivering shocking details into criminal investigations or disclosing the wayward actions of trusted public officials.

"In my early days at SLED, Hugh was sort of the face of SLED," said chief Mark Keel, who joined the agency in 1979. "It was kind of a running joke that anytime we went anywhere and the media showed up on anything big, when a reporter would walk up (asking questions), we'd just say 'No, call Hugh Munn.' And that's the way it was."

Munn was very professional, Keel said, and had a great relationship with the media and with law enforcement in general.

Hugh Munn

"He did the (public information officer) function for us, but not only for us. Many times, especially in those early days, other law enforcement agencies that didn't have PIOs, when serious things would happen, he would be the one who maybe would speak on behalf of a sheriff or chief of police, because they had requested of (the late former SLED) Chief (J.P.) Strom to handle the media."

Munn was dependable and always available, said Keel, who was named interim SLED chief in 2007, after the retirement of longtime Chief Robert Stewart in November 2007. Keel was named SLED chief in July 2011 after moving to the Department of Public Safety in July 2008.

"He was just a true professional in every sense of the word," Keel said of Munn, who served as SLED spokesman for 26 years. "We were very sad to hear this morning he had passed away."

A native of Camden, Munn is survived by his wife of 40 years, Linda, two daughters, Sarah and Melissa, and other close relatives.

"Hugh was the groundbreaker for public information for law enforcement," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, a longtime friend of Munn and the Munn family. "He blazed a path for everybody.

"He was the first one to come from a journalist background to law enforcement and you see now, he was the model that just about everybody now copies," Lott said.

Munn "trained" everybody that currently is in the law enforcement business (in the state) on how to do the media side, Lott said. "We really didn't know how to do it. He brought us from the Dark Ages into the new ages of public information."

When Munn retired from SLED in 2002, he started a new career teaching in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at USC. He also developed training programs for international media and law enforcement based on best practices for the missing child AMBER Alert System.

"Everybody respected him," said Lott, who has been in law enforcement for 38 years, and added, "Hugh Munn has been there all that time."

Stewart, who formed a law enforcement and Home Land Security consulting agency when he retired from SLED in 2007, also offered remembrances of Munn.

"He was a true professional and always operated with integrity," Stewart said. "In dealing with the media, he was trusted. If Hugh Munn told the public something through the media, the media trusted him and the public trusted him. He was a man of integrity."

Stewart said he and Munn came to the agency at roughly the same time and that Munn contributed much to SLED for many years.

 
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