I have three episodes of reporting I’m particularly proud of since I’ve been at the Conway Daily Sun, and all of them center on the police.
The first was a story I did right before town meeting on the department’s end of year spending habits. Several years ago the department blew through tens of thousands of dollars in the final days of the year. The next year it was a similar story, although less pronounced, to the point they had less than $50 to give back to the town. Finding and pointing out that pattern was exhilarating. When I was staring at their expenses and realized what had happened I almost started bouncing.
The second one was durring Krista Dittmeyer’s disappearance. Through random connections and some luck I found the name of her baby’s father. Then with a bit more digging I found out he was in prison in Maine. That afternoon I was at a press conference with national media where reporters in calf-length jackets and hipster glasses grilled the local lieutenant about the case. They kept asking about the father, but the lieutenant wouldn’t budge. The Sun photographer there with me had to remind me to wipe away the smirk. I knew I knew something no one else did. We wound up beating every other news outlet with that story, including the Portland Press Herald, a much bigger paper based in the town Dittmeyer lived in.
And yesterday the third story came out.
This story was about a theft within the police department, a theft that happened months ago that no one has been talking about. I was able to get the police chief, the police commissioners and the State Police to talk about the incident, and I was able to get a number of the key details out.
When you feel a story like these start to come together it feels really good. It feels like you’ve just discovered a lost civilization, one people meant for you never to find. It’s a treasure hunt, and with these ones I found the prize. There are surely more prizes out there, however. I’m happy to keep digging.