The "Driving Force" series by Newhouse School students and USA Today Network explores police vehicle accidents in NY State. Starting in June 2023, the project published its first stories on Syracuse police crashes and emergency driver training. It aims to create a public database and raise awareness about the impact of these accidents.

Uncovering the Impact of New York Police Vehicle Accidents

As Syracuse University has reported, police vehicle accidents have a significant impact on communities across New York State. This issue is the focus of a new data journalism project led by students from the Newhouse School in collaboration with reporters from the USA Today Network and Central Current. The project, titled "Driving Force," aims to uncover the details and consequences of these accidents through meticulous data analysis and investigative reporting.

The "Driving Force" investigative series began in June 2023 and has already published its first two stories on The NewsHouse. These initial reports explore police crashes in Syracuse and the emergency driver training programs for officers in New York State. Over the coming months, more articles will be released, providing deeper insights into this pressing issue.

Jodi Upton and Nausheen Husain, both faculty members at the Newhouse School of Public Communications, spearheaded the project. Students from Upton's data journalism classes played a crucial role in the investigation. They reviewed hundreds of pages of documents, extracting critical information such as the type of conduct, dates, officers involved, and resulting disciplinary actions. This process, known as "data tagging," transformed government PDFs into analyzable data, highlighting the significance of these incidents.

In September 2023, the reporting team convened at the Newhouse School to discuss their findings and plan further investigations. The collaborative effort has so far compiled 35,000 records from 115 police departments, covering both large urban areas and small village departments. This extensive database is designed to help the public and other journalists understand the impact of police vehicle accidents on communities.

The project also aims to build a public-facing police vehicle crash database. Workshops will be organized to teach the public and journalists how to analyze local police department documents and comprehend the broader implications of these crashes. The initiative is supported by the Data-Driven Reporting Project, funded by the Google News Initiative in partnership with Northwestern University-Medill.

Through these efforts, the "Driving Force" project seeks to bring greater transparency and accountability to police vehicle accidents, ultimately fostering safer practices and more informed communities.