Chip Minemyer

Chip Minemyer

Mark Britton has seen fellow police officers struggle when faced with sudden expenses, including for medical treatment.

Kevin Pollino comes from a “blue-blood” family and wanted to help officers and their families who are facing hardship.

So Britton, a Johnstown Police Department detective, and Pollino, a local musician, are part of a team putting on a concert fundraiser for active-duty or retired police officers.

The event – “Coptoberfest” – will be held on Oct. 12 at Peoples Natural Gas Park in downtown Johnstown.

Tickets are $5. The headlining act with be country performer Chris Higbee.

Money raised through ticket sales and sponsorships will benefit “Operation Guardian For Distressed Officers” – a fund established through Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. Donations to the fund may be made at https://cfalleghenies.org/event/coptoberfest/.

The planning committee also includes Georgine Suder and Paul Murphy.

“I think of this as a citizens-behind-the-badge effort,” Britton said. “In today’s climate, there’s more than enough negative press out there about law enforcement. We wanted to essentially build a rainy-day fund for the times when something unfortunate happens. 

“This fund is being created for families, in case something isn’t covered by their benefits.”

The group is still seeking corporate sponsors, although several local organizations – Sheetz, Freedom Ford, the St. Clair Tremont Club, I.C. Light/Pittsburgh Brewing and Smith Transport – have already signed on to support the cause.

Tickets can be purchased from committee members or at Murphy’s bar in Johnstown, Freedom Ford in Ebensburg and at the St. Clair Tremont Club, a private gathering spot on Fairfield Avenue in Johnstown.

The effort will also benefit the Cambria/Somerset Camp Cadet program.

Pollino said his ties to the local music scene helped him also recruit acts such as Adam Ernst, an Indiana-based bluegrass and country singer, and the band Locked and Loaded.

He said he wants to grow the fund to support as many officers as possible, anytime the need arises.

“Whether it’s for them or their families, we want to help out in some way,” Pollino said. 

“The goal is simple: raise as much money as we can.”

• • •

Speaking of law enforcement, the state is now sealing some criminal convictions as a way to help individuals get second chances after running afoul of the law.

That’s a fine way to help those folks turn their lives around.

But don’t expect media companies to begin pulling stories from their website archives – at least not this newspaper company.

The so-called “clean slate” legislation was adopted last year and the state has begun sealing “summary offenses, less serious misdemeanors and those that did not result in convictions,” according to a recent report from The Associated Press.

The state expects courts to seal 2.5 million records a month.

The Tribune-Democrat is owned by CNHI LLC, and Bill Ketter, the company’s vice president for editorial content, has reminded editors that a change by the state and the courts does not mean old stories should go away.

“Doubtless, this will lead to more take-down requests for qualified offenders whose crimes and names pop up from our digital archives during Google searches,” Ketter said.

“Our policy remains unchanged: We don’t alter history – even when a state law expunges or seals a criminal offense that occurred years ago.”

Every few weeks, The Tribune-Democrat gets a request from someone seeking removal of a story from digital publication.

Generally, the person named in past charges is attempting to get a job and the prospective employer has churned up stories from the past that don’t necessarily paint the picture the job applicant is attempting to convey.

What The Tribune-Democrat will do is attach to any old stories the proper updates – if something has changed.

But that doesn’t mean the original story was not valid.

We do occasionally get reports from police that name the wrong person or misidentify a suspect.

Recently, a local police department reported that a man had allegedly beaten a woman.

Someone contacted The Tribune-Democrat, saying, “Hey, you got that wrong.” We, in turn, contacted the police, who realized quickly that they had filed charges against the wrong man based on similar first and last names.

They issued a corrected report – and filed charges against another man – and we corrected our story online and published a correction in print. 

Chip Minemyer is the editor of The Tribune-Democrat and TribDem.com, and CNHI regional editor for Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio. He can be reached at 814-532-5091. Follow him on Twitter @MinemyerChip.

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