Press Clips: As Protest Coverage Fades, Full Story of Policing in SB is Still Being Written
Follow that story. One of the more frustrating realities of local journalism, for reporters and readers alike, is that the relentless demands of the news cycle -- coupled with the bare-bones resources of most internet-era newsrooms -- often preempt in-depth enterprise and investigative reporting about meaty issues that lie behind today's headlines.
So it is a boon for the community that the Independent and its persevering News Editor, Tyler Hayden, have continued to pursue many of the substantive and consequential concerns raised about law enforcement raised in the recent raft of Black Lives Matter protests that followed the gruesome killing of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
The scenes and spectacle of mass rallies and street demonstrations for now have receded, at least on the Central Coast, but Tyler has dug in to follow the story, working tenaciously to extract facts, data and personal experiences, in all their abundance and complexity, about the ways and means in which sworn officers of the Santa Barbara Police Department and county Sheriff's Department conduct themselves in carrying out their mission to protect and serve their community.
In the weeks since BLM dramatically raised questions about policing in the wake of Floyd's death, Hayden has gone beyond the daily headlines in a sustained effort to throw a spotlight on these difficult issues from a wide range of perspectives
Using the California Public Records Act, he has obtained the complete files on controversial cases in which the conduct of local officers has come under criticism, from routine calls to the high-profile killing of a criminal suspect in his apartment.
Employing the tools of social media, he has solicited, received and published dozens of real-life stories from ordinary citizens about their interactions with officers, both good and bad.
Staying on top of the beat, he's followed the most far-reaching aspect of the policing story -- the attempt by elected officials to meet the demands of Black Lives Matter advocates to establish new and historic citizen review processes and procedures to increase accountability and transparency in examining the attitudes and behavior of police officers in the exercise of state-sanctioned authority and force.
Along the way, Tyler also has built on his best-in-market coverage of the scandal of how Lompoc federal prison officials mishandled the coronavirus, pulled his weight in the paper's ongoing coverage of the pandemic and jumped in on the always surprising cacophony of daily stories in Santa Barbara, not least a little dog stuck in a drain.
In a conversation with Newsmakers, he brings transparency and accountability in talking about his own work, discussing behind-the-scenes details of how he covers the cops and describing the journalistic techiques he's used to put together his series of policing stories, along with his interactions with the players, from the police brass and sworn officers who are unhappy with his scrutiny to witnesses and victims who find a voice in his reporting.
Click below to see our entire interview with Tyler Hayden and...the podcast version is here.