Tags : law enforcement

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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Using new nonprofit law center, Hawaii’s Civil Beat wins access to police misconduct records

In the flood of paperwork that made its way each year to the Hawaii legislature, a shocking statistic slipped under the radar: About once a week the Honolulu Police Department was suspending or firing an officer for misconduct.

Often the offenses were serious – abusing suspects, lying to federal investigators, tipping off drug dealers. And for nearly two decades the information was kept quiet. Legislators paid little attention to the annual reports. Officers who resigned or got suspended for misconduct were shielded by a political loophole in the state’s public records law. Paperwork documenting the wrongdoing was often destroyed.

Civil ...

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Don't miss at IRE 2013: Criminal Justice investigations

The 2013 IRE Conference in San Antonio features several panels on criminal justice reporting, including the following sponsored by Criminal Justice Journalists:

  • Criminal justice and guns
    Featuring Gerardo Reyes of Univision, Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and moderator Ted Gest of Criminal Justice Journalists
  • Criminal justice and prisons
    Featuring Scott Henson of the Grits for Breakfast Blog, Kirk Mitchell of The Denver Post, Jessica Pupovac of NPR, Mike Ward of the Austin American-Statesman and moderator Ted Gest of Criminal Justice Journalists.
  • Criminal justice and immigration
    Featuring Alicia Caldwell of The Associated Press, Susan Carroll of the Houston Chronicle ...
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Behind the Story: Questionable border patrol shootings

In December, Tim Steller, a reporter and now columnist for the Arizona Daily Star, reported on the increasing number of shootings occurring between Border Patrol and illegal immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.  The victims in some cases appear to have been unarmed.  This fact and the lack of transparency in the investigations has cast doubt on the nature of the shootings, especially for victims’ families.  Steller’s investigation shows that in some incidents, the families’ concerns might be justified.

How did you get the idea to report on shootings by Border Patrol agents?
On Oct. 10, there was ...

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Behind the Story: Colorado's untested rape kits

Keli Rabon and KMGH Denver purchased their own rape kit over the internet to help understand the different elements of the process. Credit: KMGH Denver

In November, a KMGH Denver investigation revealed that Colorado police departments had failed to test hundreds of rape kits -- 44 percent of the 1,064 kits that Denver Police have received since 2008. Those untested kits prevent police from entering DNA into a national database that could help identify serial rapists. Keli Rabon, lead reporter on the story, shared with IRE how she found the story, what steps she took, how she handled a sensitive ...

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Behind the Story: Investigating questionable police work when documents are redacted


California Watch

One of the redacted documents
California Watch received.

In California Watch’s series Broken Shield, Ryan Gabrielson uncovered abuse and unknown injury cases at developmental centers that weren’t reported to the local police or district attorneys’ offices. 

Despite a number of condemning reports and a decreasing patient population, the number of abuse and unknown injury cases increased from 2008 to 2010 at developmental centers, which are state-run homes for people with developmental disabilities, such as autism and cerebral palsy.

Throughout Gabrielson's investigation, the California Department of Public Health, which monitors the developmental centers’ oversight department, the Department of ...

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Disciplined cops stay on duty, data shows

   I’ve always considered the response to a big data request a fair indicator of how good the story might be:
“Why do you want this? Nobody’s ever asked for that before.” Nice.


“It’s impossible to get this to you and even if we could, you wouldn’t understand it.” Even better.


“Screw the public records law. You’ll need a court order.” I’m drooling into my keyboard.


But I’ve had to rethink that philosophy following publication of “Unfit for Duty,” our nine-day series on how state and local officials handle serious incidents of misconduct by ...

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Behind the Story: Tracking problem police officers in Florida

It was an unbelievable record for anyone, let alone a public employee. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that one Opa-Locka, Fla., officer had been:

“Fired five times and arrested three, he was charged with stealing a car, trying to board an airplane with a loaded gun and driving with a suspended license.…(He) split a man's lip with a head butt. He opened another man's head with a leg sweep and takedown. He spit in the face of a drunken, stumbling arrestee. One time, he smacked a juvenile so hard the boy's face was red and swollen the ...

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Deaths data shows toll of prescription drug overdoses

When 19-year-old Taylor Kennedy woke up to find his friend dead, he called the police.

Just the day before, he had gone with Shannon Gaddis, 17, to buy heroin in St. Louis, police said.

Though officials determined that Taylor was sleeping when Shannon snorted heroin, Taylor was charged with drug-induced homicide for buying the heroin that led to her death.

If convicted, the Troy, Ill., teen faces up to 30 years in state prison.

The Illinois state and federal prosecutors in the Metro-East area, adjacent to St. Louis, announced they would investigate overdoses more thoroughly.

And they would go after ...

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Jail data: Deportations lead to dropped charges

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents deported an illegal immigrant who was a witness in a homicide case, an attorney told me. "Prosecutors are going to drop the charges."

Sure enough, the case crumbled and the U.S. citizen who had been charged with murder was set free. ICE agents had deported the witness after he was arrested on unrelated charges and booked into the county jail, court documents showed.

Local and federal authorities responded by pointing fingers at each other and insisting this was an isolated incident. The problem, a breakdown in communication, had been addressed, they promised ...

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