I’m a reporter for the USA Today Network in New Jersey, a family of Gannett daily newspapers including the Asbury Park Press and The Record (Bergen County). In 2020, I’m partnering with ProPublica as part of their Local Reporting Network.
I produced watchdog reporting that won national awards and prompted state policy changes including:
- Random drug testing for all police officers
- A police internal affairs reform
- A mechanism for making disclosures about troubled cops in state prosecutions and a statewide policy on tracking troubled cops
- An order from the New Jersey attorney general to study licensing cops
- A measure to stop bad cops from job hopping, a reform that was also the focus of a state Assembly bill
- A police academy effort to help recruits prepare
I’m eager to pay forward some of the great advice I’ve gotten along the way. I’ve talked to students at The College of New Jersey, Kean University, William Paterson University, Stockton University, and Brookdale Community College.
Impactful investigative reporting
I informed a prosecutor’s office that an officer they fought to fire – who they thought to be on desk duty – was actually out making arrests that they were prosecuting. I made hundreds of records requests to expose 20 officers on duty with known credibility issues.
I detailed how allegations by a cop found to be dishonest ruined one man’s life and sent two other people to jail. A spokesman for the county prosecutor’s office that sent those two men to jail said the office didn’t know about the officer’s dishonesty until after I inquired.
Following these stories, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal implemented a policy for tracking and disclosing details on troubled cops in prosecutions made by his office, calling the move “an important first step.” He followed up by requiring all prosecutors to track witnesses who have been untruthful, including cops.
I exposed how New Jersey failed women police recruits on a physical test at a shocking rate after a rule change that made it impossible to become stronger during the academy.
After our inquiry, the attorney general’s office said they formed a working group to explore police training standards and a member of the state commission responsible for training rules said: “…if we need to change, change it.”
I showed how police car chases killed at least 63 people in the past decade and injured more than 2,500, nearly half of whom were bystanders and cops. The chases often start with traffic violations and usually don’t end with arrests. The findings prompted two lawmakers to call for change, with one saying: “It appears to me there’s a lot more harm done than good right now.”
I fought for public records to break the news that a police captain was on drugs and drunk when he lost control of his car and died in a crash. I later identified more than 100 towns that didn’t randomly drug test cops.
I broke the news that a borough spent $1.1 million to settle police whistleblower suits, prompting an upset in the race for mayor. Our series revealed more than $60 million spent to hush allegations of police abuse.
After the most shocking breaking news incident in our coverage area this decade, I spoke exclusively with a killer cop to illustrate how authorities knew of trouble in his home long before he fatally shot his ex-wife.
Grewal credited the series with shining a light on “issues that the public should be aware of,” as he mandated random drug testing for cops and strengthened internal affairs protocol. I followed up and found eight police officers failed random drug tests after the policy change.
I wrote Long Fall, a prize-winning three-part narrative series on a New York Stock Exchange broker who lost his fortune, ran a $20 million Ponzi scheme and robbed a bank. I conducted an exhaustive series of prison interviews, corroborating key details through court records, experts, investigators, family members and victims.
I’ve taught colleagues on Excel, I’m proficient with SQL and I’m learning Python.
I used Python in an analysis that revealed New Jersey and Newark lead the nation for racial disparity in police car chase deaths.
I fought for data across two governor’s administrations and used SQL to identify scores of cops who had previously been fired from public safety jobs. But I also called every department involved and found flaws in the records.
I used SQL to produce a comprehensive watchdog piece on convicts collecting state pensions, including one who was in prison, prompting the state to stop his payments.
My video on a man beaten by police after a car crash won a National Headliner award.
I produced a video on a father who died saving boys at a beach which won first place in the 2016 New Jersey Press Association awards.