Police Use of Deadly Force Against Animals
Sparked by the curiosity of a few high-profile dog shootings by police in Western New York, I filed an open records request and discovered that Buffalo Police had opened fire on 92 dogs in a three-and-a-half year span. One officer alone had killed as many dogs in a two-year span as the entire New York City Police Department. This nine and a half minute television story -- and extensive web feature -- prompted department-wide training for aggressive animals and led to new tactics for SWAT and narcotics officers.
Tracking Use of Force
Shortly after the story about use of deadly force against animals aired, the Buffalo Police Department implemented new training methods derived from the U.S. Department of Justice. As our follow-up story showed, officer-involved dog shooting incidents dropped sharply over the course of the next several months.
In Nov. 2016, I continued to track use of force by obtaining every weapons-discharge record over a five-year span. The television story can be seen below.
In Nov. 2017, I filed a fourth Freedom of Information request with the Buffalo Police Department to obtain additional use of force records. After the department initially denied access, we mounted a legal challenge and won on appeal. The records revealed that police shootings, while rare, were not always reported to the public.
The same Freedom of Information request yielded more records about the use of deadly force against animals. Since the original investigation in 2014, incidents continued to drop sharply. For the first time in three years, the police department described new training methods for aggressive animals in an on-camera interview.
The Face of "Disaster"
"The Face of Disaster" (Click for link)
A year after Timothy Borden disappeared, his family found itself in the middle of the "nation's silent mass disaster," a term used by the National Institute of Justice to describe the thousands of unidentified remains in the United States.
Preventing Rural Suicide
"Preventing Rural Suicide" (Click for link)
In Western New York's rural, more isolated counties, suicide rates hover well above the state average. This story focuses on prevention efforts through the eye of two families who experienced loss.
Identifying The Bullies
Identifying The Bullies (Click for link)
By law, schools are required to report incidents of harassment and discrimination to the state, but more than 100 schools in Western New York filed zero reports with the State Education Department in 2013-14. This story takes an in-depth look at the enforcement of the Dignity For All Students Act, as it questions how it could be possible that so many schools in our region would have zero incidents of bullying to report. This story aired the night of the Super Bowl on NBC.
Steven Rios Series: Part 1 (Feb. 2013)
For the first time since his second murder conviction, Steven Rios publicly maintained his innocence in an exclusive interview with myself and another reporter. We produced a three-part series on Rios, a former Columbia police officer convicted again in 2008 of murdering 23-year-old University of Missouri student Jesse Valencia after a judge threw the first verdict out. We drove eight hours to Sioux Falls, S.D., to visit Rios in prison, and our interviews with his ex-wife and former in-laws broke almost a decade of silence. Full web story can be found here.
Target 8: Digging Into Law Enforcement Homicide of Timothy Simpson (May 2013)
Full web story can be found here.
A review of police records in a fatal officer-involved shooting reveals that officers fired 20 shots at an armed subject in a heavily residential trailer park.
New York's Smallest Town Still Holding On (Click for Link)
With a population of 38, Red House is the smallest town in New York. It's hidden in the hills of the Allegheny Region, left for dead near the Pennsylvania border. But it hasn't always been like this in Red House. This story appeared on USA Today's website.
A Visit to New Buffalo, Michigan (Click for link)
Five hundred miles away from Buffalo, there's a small town in Michigan named "New Buffalo." After stumbling across it on a map, a quick Google search revealed that the name was no coincidence. I took a road trip to the shores of Lake Michigan and found evidence of Buffalo all over the place.