John Diedrich, a police reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is the winner of the 2006 Al Nakkula Award for Police Reporting. Diedrich, 35, was chosen for stories about the severe beating of a man by off-duty police officers at an alcohol-fueled party. He pursued the story without the cooperation of police and city officials, unraveling a series of questionable hiring practices and special treatment of cops charged with serious crimes.
As a result of the first series of stories that won the award, nine officers were fired, three were given lengthy unpaid suspensions, and one was demoted. In the last week, three Milwaukee officers were charged with felonies and on Monday a politically well-connected officer with 16 years on the force was charged with felony sexual assault. Diedrich majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin Mlwaukee, and joined the Kenosha News in Wisconsin before moving to the Colorado Springs Gazette in 1997. He moved to the Journal Sentinel in 2004. The award is named for Al Nakkula, a 46-year veteran at the Rocky Mountain News who died in 1990. It is sponsored by the Rocky Mountain News, the University of Colorado School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the Denver Press Club.