Two Florida reporters who uncovered a police department's secret scheme to lure drug dealers to small town and entangle them in a sting operation have won the 2014 Al Nakkula Award for Police Reporting, says the University of Colorado Journalism & Mass Communication program and the Denver Press Club. The $2,000 Nakkula prize goes to reporter Megan O'Matz and database editor John Maines of the South Florida Sun Sentinel for their series “Cops, Cash, Cocaine.” The same series won a prize given last month by the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The Nakkula award is named in honor of the late Al Nakkula, a 46-year veteran of the Rocky Mountain News whose tenacity made him a legendary police reporter. The winning entry “stood out for the sheer doggedness of the reporting and the sheer audacity of the operation the newspaper exposed — a secret municipal police department program to systematically lure drug buyers to town, take them down, and confiscate their cash and their cars,” said contest judge Kevin Vaughan. Second place in the contest went to reporters John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for their series Backfire, which chronicled questionable undercover stings by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.eporting projects in the contest.