Good Investigative Journalism – Thinking Outside the Box


I love good investigative journalism.  So when I read an article like the one published in the Sun Sentinel about how many law enforcement officers (LEOs) have been violating traffic laws by driving at high speeds while off-duty, I have a sense of admiration. But what really gets me going is how reporters Sally Kestin and John Maines came across that juicy morsel: they made a public records request (PRR).

According to the article Kestin and Maines made PRRs for the SunPass records of LEOs in South Florida.  Then using a GPS they were able to track the distances and times between SunPass transponder transactions in order to determine average speeds.  Clever.

What they found was, as anyone who has two brain cells to rub together and drives on Florida’s roads would already know: many LEOs greatly exceed the speed limit for no apparent reason.  As you might expect, allowing someone to have authority or discretion and then providing virtually no oversight or accountability will result in the abuse of authority. Sorry, that’s the Calvinist in me coming out – Total Depravity and all. The only surprise here is that anyone is surprised by that result.

Based upon the outrage expressed by LEOs over the audacity of one FHP (Florida Highway Patrol) Trooper who pulled over a speeding off-duty cop in South Florida, apparently, as a society we are supposed to just let LEOs do whatever they want…even when they are driving cars and burning fuel we pay for on their way to off duty gigs.

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