Before she enrolled in an Ohio police academy in 2016, Taylor Dungjen, 29, spent her days chronicling urban crime, not fighting it. In 2011, she began work as a police reporter for the Toledo Blade. Two years later, she won national acclaim for a series about gang violence in the city. The centerpiece was a color-coded map, based on months of interviews with gang members and detectives, that showed the neighborhoods claimed by the city’s 40 gangs, the Columbia Journalism Review reports. “There’s no cop in the state of Ohio who’ll have better-written reports than hers,” says Blade editor Kurt Franck. “She was without a doubt one of the best writers we had. You could give her any kind of story, and she’d come back with a winner.”
Dungjen comes from a family of journalists. Her father, Steve, worked on the sports desk of the Medina County Gazette near Cleveland. In Toledo, Dungjen loved the crime beat because it put her in the middle of the action. Her first months were among the most violent in the city’s history. Shootings rose 70 percent over the previous year. Dungjen did most of her reporting outside the office, joining police on ride-alongs and knocking on doors in crime-ridden neighborhoods. In 2012, she was a fellow at the annual Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Symposium on Crime in America at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. It’s not unusual for police officers to become reporters. Mike Sheehan spent 25 years in the New York Police Department before he started covering crime for Fox 5. New York Daily News police reporter John Marzulli is a former officer. Reporters becoming police officers is far less common. In 1994, John Miller of WNBC joined the New York City police as a spokesman, not a cop. He now is the police department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counter-terrorism.