By Joseph Bell - Record Editor - I think the public outcry regarding gaming violations against Ridgway police officer Shawn Geci has become nothing short but absolutely ridiculous. It has reached the point now where newspaper publications are being ridiculed for publishing the truth. This is just another shameful case where if someone hears something that is bad, they don't want to see it in a newspaper; let's just cover it up. The facts are that an officer of the law was cited for gaming violations and was tried in a court of law, and subsequently found guilty. Based on comments received from internet users as well as those leaving impolite e-mails, it appears that the general public feels this is not news, and that it merits merely "a small paragraph on the last page of the paper." I feel this is incorrect... this story was picked up by the Associated Press, was in every local newspaper in the area and was featured on every news channel within arm's reach... it was even in the Philadelphia Enquirer... yet some feel that newspapers went to "such effort to shame a man." This story required sitting in a courtroom for two hours and another two hours in an office putting together a publishable article; it was not "such effort to shame a man," rather it was merely another honest day's work. One user went so far as to say that Geci wore "his uniform to his hearing so he could proudly display his officer in good standing attire"-- simply utter nonsense and not true; on the day of Geci's hearing, he was clad in a blue dress shirt and black dress pants.
Some have accused newspapers of printing a "sensationalized" version of the story. Dictionaries indicate "sensational" as "producing or designed to produce a startling effect, strong reaction, intense interest"... I can't take credit for that-- facts were merely stated and the words of the people involved were brought to the surface in print; nothing more, nothing less.
Furthermore, it pains me to see that disgruntled readers and internet users missed the entire point of this court case. The point is not that Geci broke the law but rather that the Game Commission willingly let a person off the hook because of his standing as an officer of the law. Yes Geci broke the law but the biggest story was that Game Commission officials admitted, in open court, that they were lenient merely because he was a police officer. Sadly the readers don't see this but rather wish that it never showed up in newspapers at all.