On Our Watch

All Genres #116News #23

You know the refrain. With each new scandal involving law enforcement, another horrific video of misconduct, evidence of assault, or act of fatal negligence, police officials tell the public: "We're investigating."

But what really happens inside those internal investigations that promise accountability?

For decades, the process for how police police themselves has been inconsistent, if not opaque. In some states, like California, these proceedings were completely hidden behind a wall of official secrecy. After a new police transparency law unsealed scores of internal affairs files, NPR and KQED reporters set out to examine these cases and the shadow world of police discipline. Hosted by KQED Criminal Justice reporter Sukey Lewis, On Our Watch brings listeners into the rooms where officers are questioned and witnesses are interrogated to find out who this system is really protecting. Is it the officers, or the public they've sworn to serve? New episodes on Thursdays.

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Recent Reviews
  • Beast 5419
    Essential listening
    I love this podcast! Informative and important
  • NJC_1979
    Must listen
    Important to see how the police, police themselves. Some shocking, but not surprising stories of abuse of power and incompetence. Must listen if you are curious about the current climate against police practices
  • ACT_88
    A very timely and compelling conversation! Given the extensive coverage of excessive policing in the media, I frankly thought this podcast would be more of the same. To the contrary, it was presented as a story; a well written dramatic story! Excellent podcast, indeed! Keep up the good work đź‘Ťđź‘Ť
  • Bro HIIO
    Closer to the Norm Than White Folx Expect
    I’m a 31yo blk/m, from NYC, working in higher ed admin. I grew up in fear of my life around police. I’ve had weapons drawn on me by police as I walked home as a 13yo; randomly searched in my own building; beat up; and called racial slurs…my tax dollars hard at work huh? This new cast has helped me further understand police protections, and why it’s so important for us to hold each and every single officer accountable. WE THE PEOPLE pay for these folx to protect and serve us. At no time should I feel my life is in danger in the presence of law enforcement, but the sad truth is that I do/it is. I could’ve been killed multiple times by law enforcement, for doing nothing but walking and being black, in a poor neighborhood. These stories are crucial to show that law enforcement knows they are incorrect, and will still stay on the bad side if that thin blue line. Change begins with a reckoning of wrongs of the past. Well done!
  • A Liberal in Texas
    I cannot say enough about this podcast. I am so happy that these things are being brought to the surface. Policing has been a problem for far too long and to hear just what happens behind the scenes is gut wrenching. I have to pause frequently because I get angry and upset but these stories are worth the listen
  • drhackenbush1
    I’M SO GLAD!
    I’m so glad guys like you exist. These situations are so rampant it’s unbelievable. I find it so ironic that these cops are so “SORRY” after they’re caught.
  • Sjeckers
    5 Stars
    Cops are very often bullies. Bullies are always cowards. Therefore cops are cowards.
  • Mgr46
    Press Play
    I heard about this podcast while listening to Up First during my morning commute to work! I’m glad I decided to check it out! Within a few days I was all caught about! Learning about SB 1421 and how much truth this policy has helped unfold is a big eye opener! Give it a listen!
  • Mr. Larke
    Still love the content but the new changes are not good
    Bring claire malone back. Bring Perry back. I’ve been a long time listener (since 2015) but recently the show has been feeling a bit dry and rigid in structure. Have more fun and take more chances of going off on a tangent or using the polling numbers to help paint a picture of social changes. Don’t ask stupid questions about stupid polls. Get back to what you used to do!!
  • DevinG86
    Absolutely amazing and illuminating. The people complaining and leaving bad reviews are those unwilling to face the reality of policing in America. We can’t improve anything if we are unwilling to be honest about our failures.
  • pattongl
    What Really Happens
    I am a 75 y o Caucasian male with an honorable discharge from the Army. These stories call to mind the advice one of my oldest friends gave to his daughters as they entered their teen age years. He told them that in the event one of them was ever arrested they were not to answer any questions or engage in any discussions with the police until he and an attorney were present. He explained that police were often not honest and were not to be trusted. A sheriff close to retirement once told me that the biggest problem he faced throughout his long career was trying to discern who would be a good deputy from those who would abuse their power. Your program offers very good insight into what really happens doing what often begin as routine encounters with law enforcement officers. The nation would benefit from a study stream of such programs to highlight the frequent abuses by law enforcement and subsequent cover ups of these abuses. Urge you to keep up with these investigations.
  • bzymum
    About time
    It is about time that we acknowledge what has been happening in our country. Our priority should be to protect our rights and safety. Protect our citizens first. Follow the code of conduct and laws of do no harm.
  • Valorieleigh
    The stories that need to be told
    I personally know some very good cops, so I am of the mind that there are good and bad cops. However, being in such a position leaves a lot of room for law enforcement to take advantage of their positions and to be protected doing so. These stories need to be told and the victims deserve a voice. Thank you for doing this podcast because even if it’s hard to hear, I think it’s a very important discussion.
  • Online News Fan
    Informative, and Intriguing, but sad
    I just finished binge listening to all the episodes and was extremely surprised by the findings, and the extent many of the police departments will go to cover up police officer misconduct. Although I am a black man, and I haven’t experienced or witnessed what I would classify as blatant racist treatment from by any police officer, I have always been uncomfortable around police officers because of the racist reasons for the creation of police departments in the “United States”. If you are interested in knowing what I meant by the beforementioned statement, research the topic.
  • TonyRR
    Compelling Listening
    I just spent four hours of my weekend listening to all the episodes of this podcast, and I’m quite impressed with it. Frankly, I believe the actions of LEOs needs constant public scrutiny since current society and law entrust them with so much power. It’s quite revealing to get a glimpse at how officer misconduct is handled and not handled, and so far, this program has presented both sides of that misconduct with factual support and balance, giving both sides the opportunity to contribute as good reporting should. I hope the creators of this show continue their excellent work and bring more of these disciplinary cases for us to hear while the opportunity lasts, and I say that because given the embarrassment the details of these cases can bring on departments, politicians, and city governments, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this window slammed shut at some point. It would be great to see other states follow California’s lead on this, but I’m quite sure that won’t happen in my lifetime.
  • ih8millennials
    Vocal fry
    Lead narrator suffers from Kardashian affliction vocal fry. Do you podcasters ever try Toastmasters?
  • CE9090
    Finally an NPR show like this
    Blue lives matter trolls are lighting up the ratings - pay no heed. Positive bias media about the cops infuses ALL corners of news and pop culture TV already. It’s telling that Blue Lives folks light up when that propaganda line isn’t followed. This sort of analytical critical look infuses some pods but nothing as “mainstream” as NPR. Please NPR, continue funding this type of reporting.
  • 1Lssss
    Great reporting
    Very informative and well researched. It is sad, but necessary, to hear.
  • Sephz123
    Contributes to the false narrative that policing is a problem
    Your tax dollars at work folks. Cherry picked examples of incidents of policing, meant to further the false narrative that policing and police misconduct is a major problem in our society. Instead we should be focusing on the criminals themselves & the crimes they commit that put our valiant officers at risk. Shame on you NPR, shame.
  • Woke in Time
    Try Metet Maid
    If so many of these police officers are “in fear for their lives”, perhaps they should find another line of work, one in which their “fear” doesn’t end up costing someone else THEIR life.
  • Broncotim
    Other people asking for stories of good cops are hilarious. This podcast made me hate police even more than I already do. Thats the point. The police should be defunded and wiped off of this earth.
  • linskipatel
    Important Podcast and Reminder to Support Public News
    This podcast is informative and well researched. Everyone and anyone interested in the criminal justice system, the law, justice, policing, and safety ought to listen. Oh, and anyone paying taxes, too!
  • journoMomx4
    Excellent & long overdue
    More like this. Please. It’s so incredible how systemic racism continues to live strong. Expose every bit of it. Thank you.
  • LanternRouge1706
    Not exactly an unbiased look
    Just finished listening to the 2020 hindsight episode. The host seem to proceed with the standard bias of “ no matter how the suspect acts, until they shoot and kill the officer, the officer is always wrong”.
  • Valentine I
    Excellent podcast
  • RistaYeh
    Stories of redemption please.
    I enjoy the deep dive that this show takes but I often come out of it down and mistrusting the police more than I already do. I would like to hear about stories of good officers or those that learned from their mistakes. Maybe even something about a bond formed with Black or Brown people. I think adding these types of stories would give your show more range and depth.
  • DJ JoePop
    Great Podcast
    Some really good reporting here. Worth listening to.
  • daykelse
    Important Topic
    Great podcast, very informative and entertaining
  • Espressozealot
    Important. Thank you.
    I hope this is the beginning of much more to come. Not just more episodes of this podcast in particular, but more podcasts on this topic.
  • StiriQ
    Superbly reported
    A wonderful public service and excellent piece of journalism. The reporting is fair, full throated, and comprehensive. This is the top quality story telling that is so sorely missing in news media today. I highly recommend this podcast and support the journalists performing this great service. Thank you.
  • Eagle treehouse
    Incredible reporting
    If law enforcement really wants to protect and serve, they need to open themselves up to scrutiny. This podcast serves to shed light on how poorly police actually police themselves. This is one of the best podcasts I’ve listened to... I couldn’t stop.
  • barberbabe1108
    More Please!
    My only complaint is there aren’t more of these! I love the information and the way it’s done. Thank you
  • illite@me
    Great podcast
    The negative reviews are sad to see. The reporting is fair and factual. Hope to see this kind of reporting done for each state.
  • Lomikey
    Expose All Bad Cops!
    Most cops are pretty awful and liars, expose them all.
  • pattiocon
    I feel sorry for the cops
    I am totally behind BLM but I have to say that Kathryn Jenks sounds incredibly annoying. I might have shot her if I was one of the cops (just kidding). I sure hope the dog didn’t get in trouble. It seems to me that the probation cop was unfairly fired.
  • Seramarche
    Good Podcast
    Deep dive into a very important topic. The host does a good job, but asks a lot of softball questions (especially in the episode on the fatal shooting of Pedie Perez). Why didn’t she ask the officer why he lied in his initial testimony about the incident? In this episode, Wally continues to buckle down on his misrepresentation of the incident and goes unchecked by the host. Listening to all the noises Wallace Jensen made while crying and whining for the entire 3rd episode was unbearable. I had to turn it off. Initially gave this podcast a 5-star review but edited to 4-stars after the 3rd episode.
  • Geahk
    Fascinating and disturbing
    Police misconduct gets very little scrutiny, in general, yet it is the most corrosive acid to public trust there is. Police are imbued with a total monopoly on violence and their authority goes mostly unquestioned. Not only does this harm the public on an individual level but it makes it impossible for a society have peace when there is immunity and secrecy doe the crimes of those tasked with keeping the peace. Now that we are finally seeing some small modicum of scrutiny of LEOs, the corruption and gangsterism of these institutions is revealed to be even worse than we imagined. So-called public servants who are protected by their departments for beatings, coercion, sexual harassment, drug trade, robbery, racketeering, cover-ups, spousal abuse, extortion, trafficking, stalking, rape, pedophilia, and murder. All with the tacit acquiesces of departments and their unions. If police were made to face the same justice system as civilians—particularly marginal citizens—how many would avoid jail for their crimes? Good and thorough reporting. Unsurprisingly the 1-star reviews can’t manage more than a single sentence of criticism.
  • andromeda-63
    Important subject matter, and well executed
    I am so glad that I found this podcast. These are stories that the public needs to know
  • Karen Anna
    Another show that makes you think about something in policing
    After listening to the first episode, I am so proud that my local station, KQED, is part of this project. In the past year, my eyes have been further opened to police shootings of young black men. This episode opens my mind about internal investigations. Even though the victim of the abusive treatment by police was an older white woman, and the police chief of Rio Vista did everything possible to make sure the investigation was fair by hiring an expert outside of the organization, the officer who was clearly abusive still retained her job. The police chief retired because of the campaign waged by the union. The only reason her fellow officer could be fired was that he was on probation as a new officer.
  • lt_d
    Educational Training Tool but Biased Reporting
    I have listened to a couple episodes and as a LE professional, I find this podcast educational. I plan to play a few during training and encourage officers to listen. However, the reporter is intentionally selective with her vocabulary. In California, officers’ personnel files are, by law, confidential not “secret.” I am not naive to believe there are not some in our profession that should not be. However, the vast majority of men and women in this profession are doing an exceptional job.
  • #hanandmarv
    A must listen
    Police officers have so much power. It’s imperative that they be held to the highest standard. Which is not the case in America. This podcast does a great job describing the ways in which police power can have devastating impacts on people and communities.
  • fizzeline
    To protect and serve
    Each other and citizens, civilians to them, when it’s not inconvenient. They have the god like power of life and death over all of us and the bar is set so low it depends on nothing more than they “feared for their lives “. It is baffling to me why police believe their lives are more important than unarmed citizens. The bar should be that it is beyond question someone’s life is in grave danger and if that means more police get shot or killed that should be acceptable because the reverse side of the coin would mean fewer innocent citizens killed. When these men chose to be police they knew that this is a dangerous profession and they were choosing to put themselves in harms way for citizens and whether or not they were were afraid is irrelevant. I suspect all the dead unarmed citizens they killed were terrified.
  • simons__says
    One rotten apple spoils the bunch
    We all know the one star reviews are by the cops who need to be purged from the force!
  • river 1977
    Well done
    Well researched and not biased. Just showing what is happening.
  • kylie ell kay
    An Important and Timely Podcast
    We often anecdotally hear about the blue wall of silence, or references to it. This podcast breaks down that wall in an incredibly important way. Sadly, I doubt the people who need to listen to this podcast most actually will—but it is such an informative podcast! Please keep doing this amazing work and don’t get discouraged by ignorant comments/reviews!
  • TwoFishDriving
    The one star reviewers are not listening to this podcast and need to learn how to think critically.
  • Sinnammon
    The exposé that was needed!
    Mind blowing and eye opening. This is the podcast we all needed to hear, first-hand, the corruption that is so prevalent in law enforcement across the country. The lack of accountability for the featured officers is unbelievable. Thank you for exposing them and educating us.
  • resistimpulse
    White affluent male multiple bad police encounters
    Good police exist, but as an affluent white straight male I have still had multiple terrible interactions. Some people shouldn’t be police and making excuses for people bad at their job is nonsense. I have had more positive interactions than negative but I also have a lot of privilege and knowledge that helped. Transparency should be the norm when it comes to public positions. If you can’t live beyond reproach then work In the private sector.
  • electronic
    Cops enjoy great power and abuse it
    Cops lie, cheat, plant evidence and provide false testimony.
  • RyeWit
    Very well Done
    Gives great, sometimes terrifying insight into our nations policing.
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