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IRE offers free resources to investigate police abuses and misconduct

As a public service, IRE is making key resources available for free to all journalists interested in investigating police use of force, misconduct and corruption. Typically, these tipsheets, presentations and contest entries are available solely for IRE members.

“All of us have been shocked at what we’ve seen across the country, as peaceful demonstrators and working journalists alike have been subjected to excessive force and detention by some law-enforcement officers,” IRE Executive Director Doug Haddix said.

IRE members in recent years have produced step-by-step tipsheets and guides on story ideas, resources, strategies and tactics for holding law-enforcement officials accountable. Those resources offer invaluable advice and guidance for journalists covering current demonstrations and police actions.

“Journalists in communities across America have a responsibility to report thoroughly and accurately on police actions,” Haddix said. “We hope these IRE resources enable reporters to hold the powerful accountable and empower their communities with essential information.”

Please feel free to share these resources with your colleagues and other journalists interested in digging deeper into police conduct:

Resources from conferences

Basic first steps to identify potential stories of police misconduct or corruption

Learn how to harness data to uncover police misconduct

Investigating police lawsuits, tracking misconduct lawsuits and settlement payments

How to write about police misconduct when disciplinary records aren’t public

After Ferguson: What’s next for reporting on policing in America? DeRay Mckesson, Oliver Laughland, Errin Haines Whack, Wesley Lowery

Covering the protest line

Stories entered in the IRE Awards

The stories included below were entered into the IRE Awards and in most cases, honored as a winner or finalist. As part of their submission, entrants are required to fill out a series of questions that detail how the story got started, data and documents used, and other helpful information for reporters looking to tell similar stories. 

Unwarranted, WBBM-Chicago

A more than year-long project that exposed a pattern of police officers raiding the wrong homes, traumatizing and pointing guns at innocent children, causing significant and unnecessary destruction, and violating citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights.

Trapped in Gangland, ProPublica

A look at the crackdown on MS-13 that uncovered the opposite of what President Trump praised law enforcement officials for: inept or superficial investigations into brutal murders, demeaning of victims’ families, and arrests and deportations of Latino teenagers on questionable evidence.

The Force Report, NJ Advance Media

A 16-month investigation by NJ Advance Media produced the most comprehensive statewide database of police use of force in the United States. The first-of-its-kind resource allows people to search every use of force by local officers and state troopers from 2012 through 2016, the most recent full year available.

Tarnished Brass, USA TODAY Network

This series gives readers a deep understanding of the scope of police misconduct and the secrecy surrounding it. Records detail at least 200,000 incidents of alleged misconduct by some 85,000 officers, much of it previously unreported. This represents the most complete list of officer misconduct ever created.

How California Law Shielded Dishonest Cops, Los Angeles Times
The Times published an investigation that looked into a confidential list of about 300 Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who had been disciplined for falsifying reports, lying to supervisors and other wrongdoing. The department’s list was so secret that even prosecutors weren’t given access, despite the fact that deputies on the list were potential witnesses in thousands of criminal court cases.

Bargaining the Badge, KXAN-Austin

Across Texas, hundreds of law enforcement officers have permanently surrendered their peace officer licenses in the past four years. A KXAN investigation of 297 of those surrenders uncovered nearly all the officers were accused or charged with a crime – most often felonies.

IRE Radio Podcast

You can find the IRE Radio Podcast on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Google Play. The following episodes cover investigations into law enforcement:

When Police Kill: When police kill civilians, the victims are often people of color. So, when Arizona Republic reporters Uriel Garcia and Bree Burkitt decided to investigate police shootings in their state, they knew their sources should be as diverse as their community. Go behind the reporting to learn how they tallied police shootings, identified sources, and used data and documents to show the true scope of the problem.

Sheriff Joe: For a local sheriff, Joe Arpaio can’t seem to stay out of the national news. The longtime Maricopa County Sheriff made headlines again this summer when, in the wake of a criminal conviction, he was pardoned by President Trump. But Arpaio’s story goes back nearly two decades. On this episode we’re turning back the clock to the late 2000s, when reporter Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin of the East Valley Tribune launched an investigation into some of the questionable things happening in Arpaio’s office. Their investigation would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize and change the conversation around “America’s toughest sheriff.”

Staining The System: Pamela Colloff, a senior reporter at ProPublica and writer-at-large for The New York Times Magazine, takes us through her investigation into the case of Joe Bryan, a high school principal serving 99 years in prison for the murder of his wife. His conviction was based largely on expert testimony surrounding bloodstain patterns prosecutors argued placed Joe at the scene of the crime.


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