2023 Feature, Small Newsroom finalist

Broken Borough

About the Project

After the tiny borough of Tioga, Pennsylvania, hired the cop who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, long-simmering personal grudges and infighting exploded and brought local government to a halt.

A five-month investigation by Spotlight PA exposed the limitations of Pennsylvania’s new police misconduct database, revealed how quickly a small-town government can collapse under the weight of personal conflicts and vendettas, and raised the question of whether taxpayers are best served by Pennsylvania’s more than 2,500 cities, towns, townships, and boroughs that sorely lack critical oversight of their workings.