Tags : crime

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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Behind the Story: How the Chicago Sun-Times helped bring a nephew of Mayor Richard M. Daley to justice in a 10-year-old homicide

By Paul Saltzman, Chicago Sun-Times

On Jan. 31, 2014, a nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a death a decade earlier.

Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko admitted doing exactly what an investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times had revealed in early 2011 he did — and what police and prosecutors had twice refused to charge him with doing:

Punching a much smaller man named David Koschman in a drunken encounter outside the late night bars on Division Street in Chicago’s Rush Street nightlife district. Knocking him to the ground with a single punch ...

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Fire data helps show scope of arsons

Convicted arsonist Kenneth Allen paused for a moment during an interview in front of our television cameras at his Muncie, Ind., home. Then he offered a remarkable admission.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think: ‘Man, I was a monster.’ I’m just thankful no one was hurt,” said Allen, who had spent nearly four years in federal prison.

Allen helped lead a ring of 46 men and women who were convicted of setting at least 73 home and vehicle fires and collecting at least $3.8 million in insurance payouts – the largest known ...

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Delving into crime data and finding flaws

By Zachary Matson and Meredith Turk

Steve Thompson, from The Dallas Morning News, speaks during the panel "Juking the stats? Delve into your police department's FBI crime data to find flaws" on Thursday. Photo: Travis Hartman.

When it comes to FBI crime statistics, "I can't think of a number that means more to a community and is less scrutinized," said Ben Poston of the Los Angeles Times. Each city and state might have different ways to track crime, and digging deeper into how they do it and the results they tout can be ripe for investigative stories.

While ...

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Investigating the Cleveland missing and rescued women case

On Monday, three young Cleveland women who had been missing for nearly a decade were found alive and, according to authorities, appeared unharmed. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight were kidnapped and held for years as prisoners inside a house in Cleveland. Police arrested the house owner, Ariel Castro, 52, and his two brothers, Pedro Castro, 54 and Onil Castro, 50.

Journalists are already starting to uncover details about the case and the brothers. In the search for further context, property records, background searches, court records and smart sourcing will be crucial. IRE is pulling resources, including tipsheets and archived ...

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FBI Uniform Crime Reports for 2010 now available in NICAR Data Library

The NICAR Database Library has updated the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, one of the best resources for national crime statistics.

WHAT’S IN IT?
Law enforcement agencies around the country are required to submit reports to the FBI on what are known as "index" crimes: murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor-vehicle theft and arson. These crimes are meant to serve as an index for gauging fluctuations in the overall volume and rate of crime. The data include the number of crimes by agency and month. Region, state, county, city, and metropolitan statistical area (MSA ...
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Other blogs to follow: Gannett at IRE

Gannett sent more than 60 journalists from the companies' various media outlets to attend this year's conference. Those journalists are sharing their insights on Gannett @ IRE, which includes interviews with speakers and general insights from the conference. 

Here are some posts from Thursday:

World of Data session

I was amazed by how quickly Tisha Thompson said she types paper records into data files. I was even more amazed that she doesn’t really have anyone proofread her data entry. She said her way of checking her numbers from her data entry is by going back to public officials and ...

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Improving news coverage with data

By Mayra Cruz
@MayraC27

News stories can be deepened through data, said speakers in the "Using data journalism to investigate the news" panel. 

“News happens fast,” Arizona Daily Star Rob O’Dell reporter said.

From tracking crime to finance, incorporating data in journalism goes beyond daily reporting and anecdotal information. 

Adding visualizations, numbers and maps allow the public to understand a story better.

Mortgage meltdowns in Arizona led O’Dell to look through data and map the areas where most of the foreclosed homes were being auctioned.

O’Dell also mentioned the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, in ...

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Data matching uncovers convict school cops

Until recently, getting arrested in Philadelphia for possession of crack cocaine and admitting drug dependency would not preclude being hired or continuing to work as a police officer in the public school system.

A month-long, data-driven investigation  by The Philadelphia Inquirer found that in more than a dozen cases school police were themselves getting into trouble with the law. Even an open bench warrant issued for one officer charged with a drug offense failed to trip the school district's alarm.

In another case, an officer who showed up in court to face charges after her second arrest for drug ...

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Tapping into FTC identity theft files

The statistics did not make sense.

Identity theft complaints to the federal government had been declining for the last four years. With almost daily reports of major information breaches, phishing attacks and other forms of cyber-crime, how could this be?

I answered this question by turning to a federal database that I obtained with a Freedom of Information Act request. I reviewed five year’s worth of identity theft complaints to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the consumer watchdog agency that collects ID theft information.

After a year’s wait for the records and extensive work scrubbing and assembling ...

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