Tags : CAR

Behind the Story: How Chicago Magazine exposed the truth about the city’s crime rates

Chicago Magazine | June 2014

A story that helped change the way Chicagoans digest crime stats started with suspicion.

Immersed in a different crime-related piece, Chicago Magazine Features Editor David Bernstein and Contributing Writer Noah Isackson noticed something amiss with the statistics. When their trusted police sources voiced skepticism, the early trappings of an idea took hold.

In the spring of 2013, fresh off a year of 507 murders in Chicago, the most of any U.S. city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy started celebrating what the stats showed was a drastic turnaround in the amount of crime ...

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How to survive your first CAR story

By Jennifer Johnson, The Grand Forks Herald

Spreadsheet programs like Excel have always intimidated me. Sure, I dabbled in them a few times. I pulled up pre-formatted sheets and leafed through them. I used basic formulas and figured out percentages. And I also attended a two-day IRE training with fellow reporters at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, where I'm the education reporter.

Anyone with experience will tell you that the only way to learn a program is by consistent use. Our newsroom had the training in February and by the time I started the project in earnest last ...

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Federal, state data used to track civil asset forfeitures in Virginia

When police seize cash, cars and other property, it’s usually taken through a legal process known as civil asset forfeiture.

Critics say the system gives police a financial incentive to take property with relative ease and makes it difficult for people to get it back.

We wanted to take a look at how much money is flowing through local departments as a result of this process. It turned out to be a lot.

In Virginia, agencies received more than $57 million over the past six years, according to the findings of a Virginian-Pilot examination of state and federal data ...

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Federal education data highlights rising college costs for low-income students

If you’re shopping for a college, forget the published sticker price. Just like airline passengers on the same flight, students on the same campus can pay vastly different rates.

And on the whole, those rates are increasing faster for the poorest students.

That’s what a Dallas Morning News analysis of federal education data found this year. In a project with the Hechinger Report, we examined four years of data showing what students actually paid, based on their family income. We produced several stories and an online search tool called Tuition Tracker.  

The inequity was most glaring at the ...

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IRE Radio Podcast | Cracking the Crime Stats

Welcome to another episode of the IRE Radio Podcast. On this week’s episode we’re talking about crime – everything from fact-checking police stats to building databases to track gun violence.

Here’s the lineup:

  • Michael Berens of The Seattle Times gets things started with a story about an odd beam of light, some dead rabbits and a police chopper.
  • Debra Juarez, news director at NBC 5 Chicago, talks about the ethics of naming suspects involved in a prostitution sting.
  • Steve Thompson of the Dallas Morning News and Ben Poston of the Los Angeles Times explain how to spot red ...
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Medical examiner databases shed light on North Carolina’s death investigation system

Tom Cooper died face down in a pool of blood on his kitchen floor. Virginia Gregg was found dead in her closet. And a co-worker discovered Fred Lookabill dead on the steps of his front porch.

North Carolina medical examiners ruled all three died from natural causes.

They were wrong.

Forget what you've seen on television dramas. North Carolina's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner investigates suspicious deaths much like it did 40 years ago.

Medical examiners don't rush to the scene. (They don't go at all 90 percent of the time.)

They don't wield ...

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Multiple data sets used to track fugitives who go free

In December 2011, a man fleeing from a drug robbery shot and killed New York City police officer Peter Figoski. New York reacted with understandable outrage, particularly when newspapers there revealed that the officer’s killer, Lamont Pride, should have been in jail at the time.

The police in Greensboro, N.C. were already after Pride on charges that he had shot another man during an argument. But when Pride ...

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Nurses with criminal records allowed to keep working in Minn.

Our data-driven investigation, “When Nurses Fail,” found that hundreds of nurses with records of unsafe practice, patient harm, criminal charges or convictions continue to practice in Minnesota. A state monitoring program for drug-addicted health professionals allowed nurses to continue despite abusing drugs or alcohol, stealing from their patients and failing numerous drug tests.

Nurses with histories of drug use, crime or neglect were able to obtain licenses and find jobs because of flaws in the state background check system. Patients were unaware that their nurses had troubled backgrounds. One parent inadvertently hired a nurse with a history of making crystal ...

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Behind the Story: How USA TODAY pieced together a confidential FBI database to count fugitives who go free

Brad Heath

Lamont Pride was a wanted man the day he fatally shot a New York City police officer during a 2011 robbery. Officials had already passed up opportunities to lock up Pride, who was wanted in connection with a North Carolina shooting. And when the fugitive appeared in a Brooklyn court on a drug charge, a judge aware of the warrant also decided to let him go. A few weeks later Officer Peter Figoski was dead.

USA TODAY reporter Brad Heath followed coverage of the high-profile case.

“This must be out of the ordinary,” Heath remembered thinking. “I wonder ...

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Database used to highlight lax police misconduct oversight

We knew early in our investigation of Long Island police misconduct that police officers had committed dozens of disturbing offenses, ranging from cops who shot unarmed people to those who lied to frame the innocent. We also knew that New York state has some of the weakest oversight in the country.

What we didn’t know was if anyone had ever tried to change that. We suspected that the legislature, which reaps millions in contributions from law enforcement unions, hadn’t passed an attempt to rein in cops in years. But we needed to know for sure, and missing even ...

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