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This is a teaching moment for all of us

By Joe Centers • Jul 31, 2018 at 8:18 AM

Milan Police Chief Bob Meister summed it up in one sentence. He said he always tells his new officers that now they are in law enforcement, they will live “in a fish bowl” and “all officers are held to a higher standard.”

Norwalk Police Chief Mike Conney said he is going to keep the picture and use it as a “teaching moment.”

It was a simple, harmless photo of three guys dressed to go to a Halloween party. But in this day and age, nothing is simple anymore.

Just one day after Johnie Wilcox was sworn in as a new part-time police officer in Milan, a photo surfaced of him and his two buddies dressed as Thorny, Rookie and Farva from the first “Super Troopers” movie.

The Norwalk Reflector received a screen shot Friday morning of a Facebook photo of Caleb Arp, of Norwalk, Wilcox and Brad Metcalf, of Willard, portraying the main characters — Thorny, Rookie and Farva, respectively. Arp has dark makeup on his face. Wilcox said Arp, who is tan, did that because Thorny “is an Indian” and Arp’s face “looks darker” than it really was during the party in a barn at his residence.

“It’s called Bronser. He wanted to look more like the character,” Wilcox added.

The person who submitted the screen shot wrote one comment: “Milan, Ohio’s newest racist police officer has no problem supporting black face on his Facebook.” Wilcox said he is “the farthest thing” from being a racist, noting he was “tagged in the photo,” but he didn’t post it on his Facebook feed.

The Reflector ran a story on page A-5 Saturday. Was it news? Somebody on Facebook thought so and you know how that goes — hit the right people and it will spread faster than the wild fires in California.

We talked at length here Friday about the story. There was talk of not running nothing at all, but then you let the Facebook police decide the issue.

That’s never good.

We talked to Meister three different times. We talked to Wilcox himself.

The thought here is to let them get their side out and get it over with.

Times are different.

No longer does the president hold news conferences to talk about issues — he just gets up early in the morning and Tweets about them. LeBron James ditches Cleveland for Los Angeles and disappears except on social media. He had not talked in public about his move until the grand opening of his new school Monday in Akron.

Most people rely too much on the Internet for their news and that is a dangerous thing.

The costumes were done in fun and it was last year. Why did the picture just surface now?

There was a story on ESPN Monday morning about Sean Newcomb, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, who tweeted out racist and anti-gay comments in 2011 and 2012. And Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals was in hot water Monday explaining some old tweets. Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers just went through a similar situation at the All-Star Game.

Once things go up on the Internet they never die. 

Wilcox is a good guy. We all know him here from his days pitching at Norwalk High School. We have a photo of him talking to Mark Hazelwood after a game.

A woman called the office Monday morning and said this was not a story. Why did we even run it?

I told here why. She disagreed.

I get it. But we have a job to do.

In this day and age we all live in a fish bowl.

Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected]







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