Best Investigative Journalist: Catherine Rentz, Baltimore Sun

Just days before the Justice Department released its scathing indictment of the police force, Baltimore Sun reporter Catherine Rentz penned a 6,000-word investigative story chronicling the BPD’s failure to investigate excessive force complaints—and news junkies across the city read every word. Headlined “A Rare Look Inside Baltimore Police Department’s Internal Affairs,” Rentz mapped out in exquisite detail how police investigators routinely wait months to interview crucial witnesses, process complaints at a snail’s pace, and take more than a year to rule on some cases. And when police internal affairs makes a decision, investigators rarely find misconduct by officers. “Nearly eight of every 10 excessive-force complaints submitted to police [from January 2013 through March 2016] ended the same way—‘not sustained’—and officers didn’t face any discipline,” Rentz wrote. “That rate is more than twice as high as that found in a national study by the U.S. Department of Justice.” As the city grapples with the question of whether the police can investigate their own, Rentz’s deeply-researched article makes it clear this ain’t happening.

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