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No one wins here
October 7, 2011 - Jennifer Brookens
Sometimes I know I've done my job right when both sides are angry with me.
Despite what many people may think, I really DO NOT enjoy having to write about someone's personal downfall, such as the case with the Fairmont police officer charged with driving while impaired. Half the people are screeching, "It's personal! Leave it alone & wait until it's all done!" while others are saying, "This happened in July, and they're FINALLY getting around to reporting it?! COVER-UP!"
Welcome to my world. I know I will not win either side over.
So here it is:
1) I'm sure this officer is a good person, but he made bad choices. Whatever issues brought him to make those choices can't possibly be good. But whether you think it's fair or not, as an officer who serves the public and enforces the very laws he has allegedly broken, he is held to a higher standard. If a president of a bank or an elected official was accused of embezzling funds, it would need to be reported. When these are people trusted by the public to protect and guard and serve us, then yes it is a bigger deal than a store cashier accused of taking bills from the till, or the average Joe accused of driving while impaired. If we do not report these things on our public figures, we are no longer a newspaper serving the public, but a paid-for Public Relations paper that only reports what They WANT you to hear. As I said, I certainly don't enjoy writing these stories, but would you rather I report on the death of a Fairmont police officer driving while impaired, or a police officer charged with vehicular homicide while driving while impaired? Yes, I know it's embarrassing for this man and his loved ones, but it could be so much worse.
and 2) Yes, I'm sure this accident and the circumstances behind it are old news to those in the know. The charges were filed just earlier this week, making it official. You wouldn't believe some of the rumors that "concerned citizens" report anonymously to us. As soon as we got this story confirmed by two official sources, we felt justified in reporting this issue. Yes, there are probably other questionable incidents that never get reported because there is no confirmation. And yes, this one took longer to be made public because there was a blood test instead of the instant breath test. (The BCA that runs the blood tests is eternally backlogged, not to mention that government shutdown that lasted most of the month of July).
So there it is. And whether there is a conviction and consequences, or if there is a dismissal, we will report it since we know which side will howl if we fail to do so. But whatever "side" you're on, remember this is an issue where no one really "wins."
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