Essential Research Leads to Reporters Prize-Winning Investigation

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When she set out to write about a police shooting involving a Native American woman in Washington State, In These Times reporter Stephanie Woodard had no idea that her assignment would evolve into a prize-winning investigative piece that drew heavily on the research of CGU political science Professor Jean Schroedel and doctoral student Roger Chin.

“I have long been aware of Dr. Schroedel’s groundbreaking work related to Native Americans and access to the ballot box,” Woodard said in an email. “Over the years, I have quoted her and her work in a number of articles in the mainstream and Native-owned press.

Chin happened to inform Woodard about his new research with Schroedel on the use of lethal force and Native American populations just as Woodard was writing about a 2016 police shooting of a 32-year-old member of the Puyallup tribe in Tacoma.

After she consulted their research, Woodard started tracing larger patterns and developed these into “The Police Killings No One Is Talking About,” an investigative piece that received a 2017 award from the Native American Journalism Association.

Woodard said, “Roger’s continued guidance on criminology- and data-related matters and the Schroedel-Chin research findings were essential. As they point out in their research, Native Americans experience a high rate of police violence, yet the shootings are rarely covered in the media.”

Schroedel and Chin said they are proud of the research behind Woodard’s article, especially because it demonstrates the “potential that scholarship has to influence real changes in society,” Chin said.

In related news, their research on this area—titled “Whose Lives Matter: The Media’s Failure to Cover Police Use of Lethal Force Against Native Americans”—has been accepted by the journal Race and Justice (the official journal of the American Society of Criminology’s Division on People of Color and Crime) and will be published early next year.

For Woodard, Schroedel and Chin are producing critically important work that challenges “the lack of political will to examine the problem and find solutions. My investigative piece, once published, was itself the subject of widespread reporting—so perhaps this will change.”

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