The Media Openness Award acknowledges The Badger Project’s use of – and fight for – records to investigate law enforcement.
By Jessica Sonkin, THE BADGER PROJECT
The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council selected The Badger Project as winner of its Media Openness Award (“Mopee”) Wednesday, citing its strong public records advocacy and reporting on law enforcement in Wisconsin.
“This nonpartisan, nonprofit and citizen-supported investigative reporting outlet, led by managing editor Peter Cameron, pulled back the veil on police officers who are disciplined and even fired for misconduct only to be hired by other law enforcement agencies,” reads the council’s press release.
Using public records from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Cameron found that just over 1 percent of the state’s approximately 13,500 certified active law enforcement officers have been fired or forced out from previous jobs in law enforcement. Those 200 officers — some of whom faced allegations ranging from sexual harassment to drunken fights — were ultimately rehired by law enforcement agencies elsewhere in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council also commended The Badger Project for suing the La Crosse and Wausau police departments after both refused to release parts of or whole documents. The La Crosse Police Department quickly released the documents after the lawsuit. The Badger Project’s suit against the Wausau Police Department is ongoing.
The Opee Awards, announced before national Sunshine Week, March 12-18, “recognize outstanding efforts to protect the state’s tradition of open government — and highlight some threats to it,” the press release said.
The judges consisted of Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council President Bill Lueders, Wisconsin State Journal editor Kelly Lecker, Capital Times editor Mark Treinen, former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “Ideas Lab” editor David Haynes, and Sam Martino of the Society of Professional Journalists.
The nonpartisan Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council — now in its 17th year of issuing Opees — granted awards in five additional categories.
The full list of this year’s Opee winners is available here.
The Badger Project is a nonpartisan, citizen-supported journalism nonprofit in Wisconsin.
Categories: News Blog