But most of the time the decision to print one of these stories is not easy. When someone calls me with some horrible tale of police brutality, the first thing I do is try to decide whether that person and their version of events is believable or not.
Even if I do think they might be telling the truth, that doesn’t mean they are and it doesn’t mean it’ll ever make the paper – but you have to start somewhere.
I also wanted to give you a little more information about the timeline by Gazette Graphic Designer Kyle Slagle that goes with the State Police story.
In Monday’s story police accountability expert Sam Walker said, “We have news stories about a particular officer when misconduct results in a very serious problem. We don’t really have a professional system to prevent these kinds of problems.”
That’s exactly what I found when I started researching this stuff.
The single best source for information has been newspapers, especially the Gazette’s archive. To assemble the timeline, I asked Steve Campbell, who takes care of the Gazette’s electronic library, to run a special search giving me listings of stories mentioning the State Police. The lengthy files aren’t perfect, but they give me just about all of the stories mentioning the State Police in chronological order going back to 1985.
I took those files and put them in DocumentCloud, a really neat tool that helps journalists examine and share documents. From there, I just had to pick out the most important dates and edit the information down to something someone other than me wouldn’t mind reading.
Below I’ve embedded the DocumentCloud files, which list in chronological order stories about the State Police going back two-and-a-half decades.You can make the document full-page by clicking the box in the bottom right-hand corner. The notes you’ll see to the right are my own and mostly just list what certain stories are about.
State Police stories from 1985-1989
State Police stories from the 1990s
State Police stories from the 2000s