The Washington Post’s data team has built and maintained “Fatal Force,” a publicly available database of police shootings across the country, with some help from the Investigative Reporting Workshop for the last seven years.
The project, which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for national reporting and honored earlier this year with a Peabody Award, has led to dozens of stories, including reports on how often police mistake toy guns for real ones and how many people who are shot and killed were mentally unstable. Other work in the series includes a deep look at no-knock warrants both as a story and a podcast.
John Sullivan, interim executive editor at IRW, has written or co-written many of those stories, including one that showed police shoot and kill about 1,000 people each year, despite cries for reform. IRW interns and those in American University’s graduate journalism practicum have contributed research and reporting throughout this longtime tracking.
Editor & Publisher recently hosted a behind-the-scenes video chat with the Post’s Steven Rich and Jon Gerberg about how they’ve continued to generate stories using this robust database.