Our colleagues at CityLife have named the trio of journalists Local Heroes in the December 22, 2011 issue. The comprehensive investigative report Deadly Force is available as an e-book here. All Stephens Press e-books can be viewed here. ~ CHU
The conduct of those we empower to protect us should be a matter of constant concern and vigilance on the part of citizens. But there have been enough officer-involved fatal shootings in Las Vegas, and the seemingly routine clearing of those officers by a controversial coroner’s inquest system, that you couldn’t be blamed for becoming inured to the whole grim spectacle. Which is what made “Deadly Force,” the Review-Journal’s comprehensive examination of police shootings, so important and resonant: It pried our eyes open again. (Disclosure: CityLife is owned by the company that publishes the R-J.) It’s the sort of long-term (the reporters spent a year on it), resource-intensive (the paper spent thousands acquiring records), wide-ranging, public-service journalism that big metro dailies were born to undertake.
“I suppose what surprised me the most,” Lawrence Mower tells CityLife, “was that for years — forever, really — we’ve been hearing that shootings were justifed because the person had a knife, or a gun, or a car. That is likely true in the legal sense. But what we discovered was that just because the shooting was justified didn’t mean that it had to happen in the first place. That some other departments held officers accountable for tactics leading up to a shooting was a huge surprise and allowed us to look at all 378 incidents in a new light.”
While the series certainly has local cops feeling the heat of renewed scrutiny, it’s also prompting an internal dialogue in the department about its policies and behavior, and that can only be good. Kudos, guys. ~SCOTT DICKENSHEETS