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’On Our Watch,’ A Podcast About How A Secret Internal Affairs System Protects Police

Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, CA – WEBWIRE

In 2019, a new California police transparency law unsealed the state’s secret investigations into police shootings, sexual assault and official dishonesty. Now, with unprecedented access to thousands of these files and recordings, On Our Watch details cases that show how the internal affairs system in California is built to protect officers and agencies over the public.

On Our Watch looks at previously confidential internal investigations across the state, from the small town police department of Rio Vista to the California Highway Patrol, finding investigators who take the word of an officer over the testimony of subjects, witnesses and video evidence; that don’t question officers’ assumptions about who is a threat and who is not; and that don’t treat officers’ sexual misconduct as criminal.

The podcast also details how police unions have lobbied to increase police protections, fought officer terminations and blocked transparency, even as calls from the public for police accountability have grown more urgent.

Hear The Trailer

Hosted by KQED criminal justice reporter Sukey Lewis and reported with Sandhya Dirks, KQED’s race and equity reporter, On Our Watch will be out on May 20. It will publish every Thursday for seven weeks.

“The law passed, and we still don’t have all the records. We’ve been fighting with cities and agencies for more than two years. Transparency doesn’t just happen, it has to be enforced,” said host Sukey Lewis.

“We’re proud to partner with KQED to shine a light on these stories. They’re told in California, but speak to a problem that’s facing the entire nation. NPR and all our Member station partners are dedicated to public service journalism for the communities we serve,” said Anya Grundmann, senior vice president for programming and audience development.

On Our Watch is born out of The California Reporting Project, a statewide coalition of 40 newsrooms committed to working together to obtain and report on police records newly available to the public. Led by KQED, the California Reporting Project defended public access in court against a slew of legal challenges brought by police unions. The project continues to fight for this information today, seeking to collect internal police misconduct and use of force files from every law enforcement agency in the state.

“Telling a complete story of police misconduct in California is a big task, but the California Reporting Project is a great example of how news outlets can do more together, and ultimately serve and inform diverse audiences,” said Adriene Hill, managing editor of the California Newsroom. “This collaboration helps show the way forward to more collaborative investigative journalism in our state.”

KQED is developing a database of all the records that will be available to the public in 2022.

Sukey Lewis is a journalist and radio producer with KQED News reporting on criminal justice. In addition to her work at KQED, Sukey has freelanced for Latino U.S.A., Snap Judgment and the Center For Investigative Reporting’s radio show Reveal. Sukey received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

About KQED
KQED serves the people of Northern California with a public-supported alternative to commercial media. An NPR and PBS member station based in San Francisco, KQED is home to one of the most listened-to public radio stations in the nation, one of the highest-rated public television services and an award-winning education program helping students and educators thrive in 21st century classrooms. A trusted news source and leader and innovator in interactive technology, KQED takes people of all ages on journeys of exploration — exposing them to new people, places and ideas.

About NPR
NPR, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is widely known for its rigorous reporting and unsurpassed storytelling that connects with millions of Americans every day — on the air, online, and in-person. NPR strives to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures. With a nationwide network of award-winning journalists and 17 international bureaus, NPR and its Member Stations are never far from where a story is unfolding. Listeners can find NPR by tuning in to their local Member stations (, and now it’s easy to listen to our stories on smart speaker devices. Ask your smart speaker to, “Play NPR,” and you’ll be tuned into your local Member station’s live stream. Your speaker can also access NPR podcasts, NPR One, NPR News Now, and the Visual Newscast is available for screened speakers. Get more information at and by following NPR Extra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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