Monday, December 15, 2014

Filming Crime

Filming Crime
            The Pullman Police Department made body cameras a mandatory part of the uniform in April 2013. Almost two years later, body cameras are the talk of the nation.
            Following the events in Ferguson, Missouri where a police officer was not indicted for shooting and killing an unarmed African-American man, the nation called for change. Some Americans are clamoring for body cameras across the country.
            President Barak Obama is ready to start equipping police around the country with cameras, according to the Seattle Times. In a speech on December first, he asked Congress to fund 50,000 body cameras.
            “The cameras are great, but the problem remains not everything will be caught on camera,” Pullman Police Commander Chris Tennant said.
            A camera could fall off its mount or malfunction, the officer might block the camera’s view; there are a number of things that could go wrong, he said.
            “People assume that just because we have the cameras that we’ll be able to see and understand everything in the videos, and that’s just not true,” Tennant said.
            One big issue is the public thinks they know how police work is done or how police act based on the television shows they watch, Tennant said. T.V. is creating expectations officers can’t possibly live up to, he said.
            Regardless of the general public causing headaches the media can be just as difficult, Tennant said.
            “The media want videos right away, but the video is part of the evidence, so we can’t do that until the investigation is over.” He said. “The other problem is officer mounted body cameras don’t produce ‘T.V. quality video,’ just because you have a camera doesn’t mean the footage always turns out crystal clear.”
            Tennant and Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins were pleasantly surprised at the officers willingness to wear the body cameras. Jenkins believes their willingness is a big reason the body cameras are such a big hit.
            “We like wearing the cameras,” Pullman Police Officer Mike Crow said. “They protect us from false allegations, and they help our conviction rate because how can you argue with video evidence?”
            In two different installments, the Pullman PD spent a total of $65,000 on all the equipment, Jenkins said. The cost includes mounting stations, the cameras, warranties on the cameras, and the software to store the footage.
            “All of the sworn in staff, except for the commander and the chief, have a camera. Our three reserve officers and our three code enforcers have cameras,” Jenkins said. “We even have 36 extra cameras in case something unforeseen happens, such as a camera breaking.”
            The police aren’t the only beneficiaries to the body cameras. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is completely true with the body cameras, Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy said.
            “As a prosecutor, I can never have too much evidence. The body cameras have helped in numerous cases to either fully prosecute someone or exonerate them with the video evidence,” he said.
            The body cameras don’t affect the majority of the cases the prosecutor’s office sees, Tracy said.
            “We had one case recently where a man was reportedly on the street and intoxicated. It was suspected he had abused his wife as well,” he said.
            When the officers began to approach the suspect, he put his hand behind his back, to act like he had a gun. The officers immediately start asking and commanding the suspect to show his hands, Tracy said.
            “The officers had their guns in the ready position in front of them in case they needed their pistol. All of a sudden, the suspect ripped his hand from behind his back and pointed his fingers like a gun at the officers.
            “Thankfully the officers recognize he wasn’t carrying a gun, and they didn’t shoot him,” Tracy said. “However, if the officers shot the suspect, the video would show they followed protocol and only shot in self-defense.”
            The body camera phenomenon isn’t secluded to just Pullman. The New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Spokane Police Department and Seattle Police Department have all started or will start pilot programs soon, according to the New York Times, LA Times, and KOMO News in Seattle.
            “We’re hoping to start our pilot before 2014 ends,” said Seattle Police Department Lt. Bryan Grenon. “We’re planning on having two programs to run with two different body camera companies.”
            Seattle PD will try out Taser and Vievu cameras for 90 days each before deciding what their next move will be, Grenon said.  
            “We’ve started developing our own policy from other agencies to prepare for possible pitfalls,” he said.
            The body camera industry may not be perfect, but having them is only going to help law enforcement in the future, Jenkins said. Trust and safety are the main concern, so the more ways the police and the public can be protected only helps the two sides trust each other again.
List of Sources:
Chris Tennant: 509-334-0802
Gary Jenkins: 509-334-0802
Denis Tracy: 509-397-5317
Mike Crow (Interviewed in person)
Bryan Grenon: 206-390-4937

Video Proof Interview Gary Jenkins
Public Records Request

Monday, December 8, 2014

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Pullman Police Working on Public Works Request for Body Cam footage

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Final Pitch - Public Record Request

            I’m looking at the public issue of police wearing body cameras. After the Ferguson case people are more up in arms than ever before about police wearing body cameras. The outspoken public wants police to be watched and monitored so “a Michael Brown case” doesn’t happen again. I’ve seen a number of articles about some cities looking into body cameras. In September, the New York Times wrote an article about the NYPD doing a body camera pilot program. Also, the LA Times wrote an article about the LAPD choosing their contractor for their on-body cameras.
            We should read it now because body cameras, police and hard video evidence are a huge topic because of the Ferguson decision. I’m looking at making a national issue/aspect connect to Pullman. Pullman has required their officers to wear their body cameras, Pullman PD Commander Chris Tennant told me. Whitman County Prosecutor Dennis Tracy says the body cameras have helped with some cases as well. I’m hoping to contact New York PD because the Times reported a pilot program in September, and I haven’t seen anything from them in a little while, so I’m hoping they have some more information. I also want to talk with the LAPD to see how big cities are handling the cameras or if they’ve even been able to use them well yet.

Chris Tennant (looking to talk with Chief Jenkins too)
Dennis Tracy (looking to find another interview because he and Tennant said similar things)
NYPD (Not sure on a specific person)
LAPD (Not sure on a specific person)

Trying to decide on a fifth source

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Man Behind the Numbers (Story+Outline+Pitch+Contact Information)

The Man Behind the Numbers
            As he sits behind his desk, papers stacked, folders sticking out, computer playing music, Pullman finance director Bill Mulholland is more than just the “money guy.”
            The past five years he has lived between Spokane and Pullman. Waking up every Monday at 3 a.m., getting ready and leaving Spokane by 4:30 a.m. to make it to Pullman by six in the morning. He lives in Pullman until Friday around 4:30 p.m. when he heads back to his Spokane home for the weekend.
            Throughout the week, Mulholland doesn’t get to see his wife. After five years as Pullman’s finance director, and five years of mostly seeing his wife on weekends, he’s decided to retire in May 2015.
            “My wife said to me, ‘after all your jobs and all our time together, this is the happiest I’ve ever seen you at a job,” he said. “I really do; I’ve got a great staff, I love the people I work with.”
            Why leave now?
            “Well, when you wake up on Wednesday and think ‘all right I get to go home on Friday’ but then Sunday think ‘well, crap I’ve got to wake up at 3 a.m. tomorrow’ you know it’s probably time,” Mulholland said.
            Now, he’s not complaining about going to work, in fact, ask him what he really enjoys and he’ll tell you he’s always loved working.
            “It’s an odd thing for people to hear, but I really enjoy coming to work,” he said. “Everyone here knows what they’re doing, and they do an excellent job.”
            Mulholland gives people a lot of the credit, but he doesn’t brag that he’s trained or brought people up.
            “He has personally trained or had his staff trained by someone else, so they could be multi-faceted,” said Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson. “His staff is cross-trained even, so if someone misses a day, the next person can handle that job too.”
            Mulholland has only been the finance director for five years, but he changed the culture in the department, Johnson said. After he arrived, Mulholland faced a daunting task.
            “We were in the middle of the recession when Bill came on,” Johnson said. “Even before he got here, some of his staff had looked at other offers. Through really bad timing many of his staffers left to pursue those other jobs.”
            Mulholland had to replace an accounting manager, his second in command, and a finance head. On top of that, there were only a few weeks before a major budget plan was due, he said.
            “I was announced one day; council approved me the next day; the mayor at the time told me I was going to a convention, and he said ‘oh by the way the we’re three weeks behind on the budget’,” Mulholland said.
            Although the biggest part of his job is the city budget, he “wears a lot of different hats in city hall.” He is the finance director: signing checks, talking to department heads, calling departments for clarification on purchases.
            “My job is to make sure we are spending the people’s money wisely,” he said. “I talk to department leaders all the time to make sure we’re only spending on things we need; if we can do without it, let’s try to do without it.”
            He is the city clerk: takes minutes for council meetings. He is the only person in the city who can approve extensions for things like utility bills, or paying for an ambulance ride.
            Mulholland has so much to do, and little time to do it. His planning and organizational skills date back to his time in the military.
            “In the military, you have to be able to think steps ahead of what you’re doing and what you will do,” he said. “Finance is the same way; I can’t always predict what will happen, but I need to prepare in case the worst comes.”
            Mulholland was in the Army on active duty for four years and active reserve for two more years.
            “One job I had was to manage almost everything in the camp. I managed, fuel, transportation, ammunition, food, you name it,” he said. “I got a call one time from my executive officer saying, ‘I’m on such and such range, where is the fuel truck?’
            “’Well, I said, ‘If you look over to the hill on your East side it should be cresting over the hill right now.’ As I said that the truck peaked over the hill and my executive officer says ‘okay I see it.’ I just went ‘YES’,” he said as he gave a fist pump in his desk chair remembering the joy he felt.
            Organization is key in both the military and in finance, he said. To be a successful leader, whether in the Army by organizing troops or in finance by organizing numbers, there has to be a system to track it all, he said.
            As a dad, the military sometimes showed at home. His son, Sean Mulholland, saw leadership in his dad very early.
            “My dad and I did Boy Scouts together and that made it hard sometimes to see him as just my dad because he was also my scout leader,” Sean Mulholland said. “That isn’t a bad thing either, he and I bonded a lot and he had a huge impact on my life.”
            ‘Take care of your men and your mission’ is a phrase that stuck with Sean Mulholland through his youth to this day.
            “I was the leader of my patrol in Scouts, and we were lining up to get food at camp. I happened to get near the front, and my dad pulled me out of line,” he said. “Obviously I was upset, I was hungry.
            “He told me ‘if they run out of food, your job is to make sure your boys get food. If you take care of your men, they will take care of you’,” Sean Mulholland said. “It taught me that as a leader, a dad, a husband that I should put others first, I have a responsibility to their well-being; I can’t ignore that.”
            His father remains a constant source of knowledge and advice to this day.
            “I call him every once in a while, and he’ll help me through anything I’m struggling with,” Sean Mulholland said. “We have similar likes and dislikes, it’s nice having a parent like that.”
            Scouts, the military, and working jobs in both Arizona and Washington brought Bill Mulholland to Pullman for his last and, by his accounts, best job he’s had.
            “I’m looking forward to doing all the things I said I would do more, like golf or fly fish. Mostly I look forward to spending time with my wife for longer than a weekend,” Bill Mulholland said. “It won’t be all relaxing, because like I said, I love working.”
            A day of fly-fishing, a few days of golf and some volunteer work per week are in the plans, he said.
            “I’ve done a lot of cool stuff with a lot of cool people, but it is time,” he said. “I’m leaving the finance department ready to move on without me. I won’t miss certain elements, like the commute, but I will miss the people; I’ve got a great crew here.”
            He won’t officially retire until next May, so he has some time to soak in all the good parts of a job he loves so much.

            Bill Mulholland is retiring after 25+ years in 2015. He is a military, family man, who spent the last 5 as the Finance Director in Pullman helping get the sity out of the recession.

            Pullman’s Finance Director Bill Mulholland says he’s retiring after this year. He’s been working for 25 years with financial management experience in Washington and Arizona. He’s been in Pullman since September 2009.

            The story is relevant because Bill has been so integral the last 5 years and he’s calling it a career after 25+ years.
Bill Mulholland
Glenn Johnson
Need to find a 3rd source

Contact Information:
Bill Mulholland, Finance Director, 602-524-4100
Glenn Johnson, Mayor, 509-338-3316

Sean Mulholland, Son, 719-491-8519

Monday, November 17, 2014

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Beat Related Articles

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Feature Pitch

Pullman’s Finance Director Bill Mulholland says he’s retiring after this year. He’s been working for 25 years with financial management experience in Washington and Arizona. He’s been in Pullman since September 2009.

The story is relevant because Bill has been so integral the last 5 years and he’s calling it a career after 25+ years.

Bill Mulholland
Glenn Johnson

Need to find a 3rd source