Statewide reporting project on police accountability wins free speech award

A statewide collaboration among newsrooms including the Long Beach Post has won an award for reporting on police misconduct and use of force.

The First Amendment Coalition announced today that it has given its 2019 Free Speech & Open Government Award to the California Reporting Project, a partnership of 40 newsrooms that has gathered thousands of documents and published dozens of stories on newly revealed police records.

The coalition, spearheaded by the Bay Area News Group/Southern California News Group, Capital Public Radio, Investigative Studios, KPCC/LAist, KQED and the Los Angeles Times has submitted hundreds of public records requests in order to obtain thousands of files that were previously secret.

The news organizations partnered in response to new state legislation, SB 1421, that made public certain police records about sexual misconduct, dishonesty and serious uses of force. Before SB 1421, many police departments, including Long Beach, refused to release detailed reports about incidents like police shootings, arguing state law barred them from doing so.

Since SB 1421 went into effect Jan. 1, the California Reporting Project has published more than 125 stories on the newly revealed records.

“The California Reporting Project represents a truly groundbreaking approach to journalism and transparency in the public interest,” said FAC Executive Director David Snyder. “Unafraid to knock down the walls that traditionally separate competing journalists, this group did an immense public service to California — and to all members of the public, who gained so much from the creative and aggressive approach the Project embodies.”

To learn more, visit the California Reporting Project website or read the Post’s coverage.

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