"We're always proud when our folks get a big national honor," KHOU Executive News Director Philip Bruce told mikemcguff.com. "This one is especially gratifying because our guys really lived up to our promise to hold the powerful accountable. In this case, it was a handful of cops breaking the public's trust."
Investigative reporter Jeremy Rogalski and photographer Keith Tomshe took the honor for their story Ticket-Rigging Traffic Enforcement.
"[Jeremy and Keith] worked their butts off to nail the details on this and to make sure we were right," added Bruce. "I'm very glad they're both getting recognized for what they did. This wasn't some hyped-up pseudo-investigation--it was great, solid reporting that made a difference. That's what we try to be about in our shop. We're very proud of our I-Team, now and always."
Here are the judges' comments:
You can’t be in two places at once. KHOU used extensive data analysis to prove that members of the Houston Police Department’s traffic enforcement division were falsifying tickets so they could collect more overtime money in court. A group of officers listed each other as witnesses on traffic tickets, even though KHOU proved they were somewhere else, writing a different ticket at the same time. Rogalski used traffic ticket data to find suspicious tickets, and then cross-referenced the tickets with GPS data from the officers’ locations. The investigation led prosecutors to dismiss more than 6,000 tickets. Three officers quit and were indicted on felony charges.