In an investigative series “Lawless,” Anchorage Daily News Special Projects Editor Kyle Hopkins found that one in three Alaskan communities have no law enforcement of any kind. The series, produced in a partnership between the Daily News and ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, won this year’s Al Nakkula Award for police reporting, co-sponsored by the Denver Press Club and the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Media, Communication and Information. Hopkins also won the 15th annual John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting award given in February for a series of articles. CU News Corps Director and lead judge Chuck Plunkett calls the investigation “a vast and breathtaking series of reports that revealed in vivid detail how Alaska’s indigenous populations are systematically denied basic public safety services.”
Daily News Editor David Hulen and ProPublica Editor-in-Chief Stephen Engelberg said that, “Within weeks of publishing our first story, U.S. Attorney General William Barr declared a federal emergency, releasing millions of dollars in law enforcement funding for rural Alaska. Subsequent stories led to a state regulatory crackdown and calls for reform from the state’s U.S. senators.” Another standout in this year’s competition was the series “Cops and Robbers,” by Baltimore Sun Reporter Justin Fenton. The series exposed a culture of corruption in the Baltimore Police Department’s elite Gun Trace Task Force that allowed officers to steal money and drugs from suspects in order to operate a crime ring of their own. The judges give special mention to a collaboration with Marquette University’s Public Service Journalism O’Brien Fellowship and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that produced the series, “Unsolved: The Devil You Know.”Journal Sentinel Criminal Justice Reporter Gina Barton investigated the cold case of Father Alfred Kunz, who was murdered in a rural Wisconsin town in 1998.