Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting

Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting

The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting is an independent, nonprofit media organization dedicated to statewide accountability journalism in Arizona. AZCIR’s mission is to produce, foster and promote investigative journalism through original and collaborative reporting, public events and trainings, for the betterment of our communities.

Mixed between Sedona's drum circles and full moon ceremonies are events that weave together anti-gov ideologies and cons...
09/12/2023

Mixed between Sedona's drum circles and full moon ceremonies are events that weave together anti-gov ideologies and conspiracy theories, creating what experts call a pathway to radicalization. Read Part II of Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting's latest series:

Blending alternative wellness offerings with events traditionally aligned with the far right, experts warn of a pathway to radicalization.

A deluge of so-called 'sovereign citizen' filings have flooded the Pima County Recorder's Office in Arizona, paralleling...
09/11/2023

A deluge of so-called 'sovereign citizen' filings have flooded the Pima County Recorder's Office in Arizona, paralleling a national resurgence of the movement. The ideology, which includes people operating independently or identifying with one of the movement's loose-knit groups, are known for harassing and threatening people by inundating them with baseless lawsuits and liens.

Read Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting's latest:

A deluge of ‘sovereign citizen’ paperwork has flooded Arizona’s Pima County, a spike that parallels a national resurgence of the movement.

The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting and the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism have collaborated for ...
08/21/2023

The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting and the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism have collaborated for the past seven months to investigate the nationwide spread of "constitutional sheriffs," a group quietly expanding its influence and impact across the U.S. by training law enforcement officers that sheriffs are the ultimate authority in their county and may refuse to enforce any state or federal law they deem unjust or unconstitutional.

Since 2018, the group held rallies & events in at least 30 states, and did training for officers in at least 13, reporters found. Read our latest project:

The Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officers Association has for years railed against gun control laws, COVID public health mandates and alleged election fraud. The group has also spread its ideology across the nation, seeking to become more mainstream by securing state approval for law enforcement...

Arizona's social equity program was supposed to create a path to dispensary ownership for those most affected by previou...
07/27/2023

Arizona's social equity program was supposed to create a path to dispensary ownership for those most affected by previous ma*****na laws. But nearly two years into the program, the state's existing corporate dispensaries have flexed their financial power to overtake a many of the licenses.

Read the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting's latest investigation, made possible by support from Fund for Investigative Journalism:

Nearly two years since 26 social equity applicants were drawn from a lottery to benefit Arizona communities affected by previous ma*****na laws, existing corporate dispensaries have a stake in more than half of them.

Help us welcome AZCIR's new investigative reporters! We're grateful to Report for America, Scripps Howard Fund and Vital...
07/14/2023

Help us welcome AZCIR's new investigative reporters! We're grateful to Report for America, Scripps Howard Fund and Vitalyst Health Foundation AZ for making their positions possible.

I’m thrilled to announce and introduce you to AZCIR’s newest investigative reporters, Hannah Bassett and Brendon Derr. Both started this week.

06/21/2023

The Scripps Howard Fund has chosen the 2023-2024 class of Roy W. Howard Fellows as well as the nonprofit newsrooms hosting the Fellows. The program supports investigative journalists, giving them hands-on experience working in major media outlets.

The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting has agreed to dismiss a lawsuit against the Cochise County Sheriff’s Offi...
06/21/2023

The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting has agreed to dismiss a lawsuit against the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office after securing records the agency repeatedly failed to disclose, as well as an $8,000 settlement to defray costs associated with the public records fight:

The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting has agreed to dismiss a lawsuit against the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office after securing records the agency repeatedly failed to disclose, as well as an $8,000 settlement to defray costs associated with the public records fight.

06/20/2023

Rep. Laura Terech, a Democrat, crafted a bill in response to an investigation by AZCIR and The Hechinger Report, which revealed for the first time the scope of the controversial disciplinary practice of suspending Arizona students for tardiness and truancy.

Arizona lawmakers and advocates are working to change how schools respond to student absenteeism, citing an Arizona Cent...
06/14/2023

Arizona lawmakers and advocates are working to change how schools respond to student absenteeism, citing an Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting investigation with The Hechinger Report that exposed the controversial yet pervasive practice of suspending students for missing class:

Rep. Laura Terech, a Democrat, crafted a bill in response to an investigation by AZCIR and The Hechinger Report, which revealed for the first time the scope of the controversial disciplinary practice of suspending Arizona students for tardiness and truancy.

A rule change that lowers the bar for extremist organizations to radicalize law enforcement through training was enacted...
05/01/2023

A rule change that lowers the bar for extremist organizations to radicalize law enforcement through training was enacted on April 5, despite a series of letters from civil rights groups urging Arizona’s governor and attorney general to take preemptive action. The groups are particularly worried about so-called “constitutional sheriff” training, which they say contains false and dangerous misinformation about the role of law enforcement.

A rule change that lowers the bar for extremist groups to radicalize law enforcement through training was enacted on April 5, despite a series of letters from civil rights groups urging Arizona’s governor and attorney general to take preemptive action.

04/27/2023

We are excited to announce our inaugural News Safety Cohort!🎉

These 16 international newsrooms are committed to better supporting their journalists of color, women journalists & LGBTQI+ journalists who are disproportionately impacted by .

We’ll offer them customized safety training and consultations and provide a space for peer support and collaboration. Learn more about our work to change newsroom safety culture at bit.ly/NewsSafety.

It's been nearly 7 months since AZCIR's Isaac Stone Simonelli submitted a basic records request to the Cochise County Sh...
03/15/2023

It's been nearly 7 months since AZCIR's Isaac Stone Simonelli submitted a basic records request to the Cochise County Sheriff's Office. They have yet to provide those records, or respond at all. We've now taken them to court:

https://azcir.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Special-Action-Complaint-Cochise-County-filed.pdf

Arizona-based sheriff group the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, is elevating some of its most co...
02/16/2023

Arizona-based sheriff group the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, is elevating some of its most controversial members—including those with direct ties to other anti-government and white nationalism movements—into formal leadership positions.

The group will maintain its focus on recruiting and training law enforcement, but also plans to increase online resources to better reach the general public, including local elected officials, as it builds on momentum it gained during the pandemic.

Our latest in our continuing coverage of so-called "constitutional shreriffs," via Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting:

Arizona-based "constitutional sheriff" group is embracing the more radical arm of its membership by promoting some into leadership positions.

We have less than two weeks left to raise at least $5,000 for our NewsMatch campaign. Meeting that target unlocks an add...
12/19/2022

We have less than two weeks left to raise at least $5,000 for our NewsMatch campaign. Meeting that target unlocks an additional $40,000 in matching funds from local and national philanthropists.

If you value our journalism, help us keep doing it. Donate today!

AZCIR depends upon individuals like you. Donate now to help us produce independent and in-depth investigative reporting for Arizona.

Though suspending students for attendance violations is widespread in Arizona, the practice is not universal—or necessar...
12/13/2022

Though suspending students for attendance violations is widespread in Arizona, the practice is not universal—or necessary, according to school and district leaders who have found ways around it. Read the third & final installment of 'Education Suspended':

Educators in districts that avoid attendance-related suspensions say it requires a two-pronged approach: focusing on making school a place where students want to be while approaching absenteeism as a problem to solve.

In the second part of AZCIR's latest investigation, we dive deeper into the data, revealing how Black, Latino and Indige...
12/08/2022

In the second part of AZCIR's latest investigation, we dive deeper into the data, revealing how Black, Latino and Indigenous students are frequently overrepresented among those blocked from class for missing class in Arizona—what some argue is evidence of a potential civil rights violation.

Arizona's Black and Latino students are overrepresented among those suspended for missing class, a potential civil rights violation.

NEW: A first-of-its-kind analysis by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting and The Hechinger Report has found t...
12/06/2022

NEW: A first-of-its-kind analysis by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting and The Hechinger Report has found that attendance-related suspensions are pervasive across Arizona, in some districts accounting for more than half of all in-school suspensions.

AZCIR and Hechinger obtained, through public records requests, data from 150-plus districts and charter networks that educate about 61 percent of Arizona’s 1.1 million public school students. The majority had suspended students for attendance-related violations, collectively assigning nearly 47,000 suspensions over the past five school years. Of those, 1 in 5 were out-of-school suspensions.

When suspensions are levied as a punishment for students whose only offense is missing class, problems can snowball.

This —what we in the nonprofit news sector call  —we hope you’ll consider the value AZCIR brings to our state as you con...
11/29/2022

This —what we in the nonprofit news sector call —we hope you’ll consider the value AZCIR brings to our state as you consider your end-of-year giving.

Through December 31, NewsMatch—along with national funders and AZCIR Board Chairman Adam Goodman—will match your new monthly donation 12 times or double your one-time gift, all up to $1,000. Can we count on you to support our independent reporting?

https://azcir.org/donate/

An extremist, anti-government ‘constitutional sheriffs’ group attempted to get its training approved for Arizona law enf...
11/16/2022

An extremist, anti-government ‘constitutional sheriffs’ group attempted to get its training approved for Arizona law enforcement last year. AZPOST blocked it. Starting in December, they won’t be able to.

A pending rule change by Arizona’s top law enforcement-certifying agency removes a safeguard against extremist ‘constitutional sheriff’ training for law enforcement by allowing sheriffs and police chiefs more autonomy in determining what qualifies as mandatory continuing education credit.

Starting today, we’re participating in  , a national matching-gift campaign that drives donations to nonprofit newsrooms...
11/01/2022

Starting today, we’re participating in , a national matching-gift campaign that drives donations to nonprofit newsrooms.

Through Dec. 31st, NewsMatch will match your new monthly donation 12x (or double your one-time donation), up to $1,000!

Will you support independent Arizona journalism? Donate today!

https://azcir.org/donate/

Vaccination rates in Arizona crashed during the height of the pandemic. An AZCIR analysis reveals about 60% of kindergar...
10/31/2022

Vaccination rates in Arizona crashed during the height of the pandemic. An AZCIR analysis reveals about 60% of kindergarten classes had drops in the number of kids who are immunized against measles, mumps and rubella.

School vaccination rates dropped by as much as 30 percentage points for certain immunizations since 2018, an AZCIR analysis shows.

(PART II) Sheriffs of all political stripes have found themselves thrust into the election integrity arena in response t...
10/21/2022

(PART II) Sheriffs of all political stripes have found themselves thrust into the election integrity arena in response to threats against election workers and an onslaught of debunked allegations of voter fraud.

But election and domestic extremism experts have sounded the alarm about a “small but vocal subset of sheriffs” who they say are seeking to expand their role into election administration, without any lawful basis to do so:

Domestic extremism experts warn that so-called “constitutional sheriff” groups are compounding problems created by disinformation campaigns and undermining public confidence in elections and law enforcement, setting the stage for situations that can lead to voter intimidation and ultimately subv...

More than half of Arizona’s county sheriffs are at least partially aligned with a growing movement of so-called “constit...
10/20/2022

More than half of Arizona’s county sheriffs are at least partially aligned with a growing movement of so-called “constitutional sheriffs,” with an ideology that threatens to radicalize law enforcement by indoctrinating them with false legal theories about a sheriff’s authority over state and federal government, and a duty to nullify laws they interpret as unconstitutional. A shift toward amplifying misinformation about widespread voter fraud has experts sounding the alarm.

Read AZCIR's first installment of a two part series:

More than half of Arizona sheriffs are aligned with at least some of the anti-democratic ideologies of the “constitutional sheriff” movement.

In Phoenix this week? Join us for a live storytelling event as part of a collaboration between AZCIR, ProPublica and Loc...
09/07/2022

In Phoenix this week? Join us for a live storytelling event as part of a collaboration between AZCIR, ProPublica and Local Live(s). You'll hear the stories behind our stories, with local music and stories from the community, too! There's still time to register:

Join the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica for Local Live(s), a night of storytelling and music bringing together investigative reporters and community members. ProPublica and AZCIR journalists will share the stories behind their published journalism — parts of the reportin...

Jake’s Law, a sweeping mental health parity bill signed into law in 2020, covers mental health services for Arizona stud...
09/01/2022

Jake’s Law, a sweeping mental health parity bill signed into law in 2020, covers mental health services for Arizona students who otherwise may not have received treatment. But provider shortages and other challenges have made it difficult for some children and their families to access help.

Read more about what has happened in the two years since Jake’s Law became a reality in our latest story in collaboration with The Mental Health Parity Collaborative, a national partnership between AZCIR and The Carter Center’s Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism and other news outlets throughout the U.S.

Jake’s Law has covered behavioral health services for students who otherwise may not have received treatment. But provider shortages and other challenges have made it difficult for some children and their families to access care.

Are you an investigative reporter looking to spend up to six months on a single project? We're hosting a Fund for Invest...
08/12/2022

Are you an investigative reporter looking to spend up to six months on a single project? We're hosting a Fund for Investigative Journalism Diversity Fellowship and we'd love to see your application.

You'll embed in our newsroom for six months, get paid $30K and work under the direction of our experienced team. Questions? Ping us here.

Apply by Sept. 27:

In our commitment to increasing diversity in the field of investigative journalism, the Fund for Investigative Journalism is offering three, six-month Diversity Fellowships. The fellowships are open to individual applicants from groups underrepresented in investigative journalism due to race, ethnic...

Emergency cash helped curb a shortage of mental health positions in Arizona schools. But the temporary fix won’t make up...
07/21/2022

Emergency cash helped curb a shortage of mental health positions in Arizona schools. But the temporary fix won’t make up years of lost ground.

More on the current state–and future–of these jobs in our latest story, as part of a collaboration with The Carter Center and newsrooms across the U.S.

Temporary grants have let Arizona schools make incremental gains to address inadequate ratios of campus mental health professionals to students. But as youth mental health issues persist, the state lacks a permanent solution.

With record-breaking heat and an increasing number of days exceeding triple digit temperatures, a CDC report reveals tha...
06/17/2022

With record-breaking heat and an increasing number of days exceeding triple digit temperatures, a CDC report reveals that Arizona residents seeking refuge from extreme heat may face barriers to indoor, air-conditioned centers designed to shield them from dangerous heat:

With an increasing number of days exceeding triple digit temperatures, a CDC report reveals that Arizona residents seeking refuge from extreme heat may face barriers to indoor, air-conditioned centers designed to shield them from dangerous heat.

Researchers from Arizona’s three state universities will get $3.1 million to pinpoint hotspots and infection patterns fo...
04/12/2022

Researchers from Arizona’s three state universities will get $3.1 million to pinpoint hotspots and infection patterns for Valley fever, providing new tools to combat the fungal disease that sickens more people in Arizona than in any other state.

The three-year grant, awarded to the Valley Fever Collaborative by the Arizona Board of Regents, represents the largest state investment targeting the respiratory disease in recent Arizona history. It comes six months after a series of AZCIR reports highlighted the difficulty of tracking and preventing Valley fever infections, and exposed how a dearth of dedicated state funding has limited public understanding about the ecology and true impact of the dust-borne pathogen.

Top researchers from the state’s public universities will get $3.1 million to pinpoint hotspots and infection patterns for Valley fever, a fungal disease that each year sickens thousands and kills dozens in Arizona. The funding marks the first significant state investment targeting the respiratory...

We're honored to be part of this initial cohort of newsrooms looking for innovative ways to fund our journalism in the l...
03/24/2022

We're honored to be part of this initial cohort of newsrooms looking for innovative ways to fund our journalism in the long term. We'll need your help to get there, and our first step is better understanding the communities we serve.

Let us know what we're doing right, or where we can improve. Email us at info [at] azcir.org

Support from Meta Journalism Project will enable newsrooms to complete a six-month best practices course on philanthropy, other revenue strategies.

Dried blood and grime. Improperly disinfected dialysis stations. Failure to follow treatment orders.Since 2019, an AZCIR...
03/08/2022

Dried blood and grime. Improperly disinfected dialysis stations. Failure to follow treatment orders.

Since 2019, an AZCIR analysis of state inspection data shows nearly three-quarters of Arizona’s 130 outpatient dialysis clinics were cited for health and safety violations. Dialysis patients, who have end-stage kidney disease and are at high risk of life-threatening infections, means cleanliness and infection control are vital to their survival.

Meanwhile, the nationwide medical staffing and supply shortages from COVID-19 have also reached dialysis clinics, further compounding the risks to patients.

Read more about our latest reporting:

Since 2019, nearly three-quarters of Arizona’s 130 outpatient dialysis clinics were cited for health and safety issues that could put patients at an increased risk for life threatening infections, an AZCIR analysis of state inspections shows.

Will you support independent journalism in Arizona? We have just $600 to raise in order to trigger $40,000 in matching f...
12/31/2021

Will you support independent journalism in Arizona? We have just $600 to raise in order to trigger $40,000 in matching funds!

AZCIR depends upon individuals like you. Donate now to help us produce independent and in-depth investigative reporting for Arizona.

A bipartisan group of Arizona mayors this week urged Congress in a letter to "prioritize significant, sustained investme...
12/09/2021

A bipartisan group of Arizona mayors this week urged Congress in a letter to "prioritize significant, sustained investment" in child care system, echoing recent reporting by Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting's Maria Polletta (as first shared with AZCIR newsletter subscribers):

It’s Maria Polletta, AZCIR’s investigative education reporter. You’ve probably read my recent coverage of instability in Arizona’s child care sector, from last month’s deep dive into how state leaders’ neglect contributed to a precarious, underfunded system to last week’s reporting on ...

Instability in Arizona’s child care system is costing the state's economy an estimated $1.8 billion a year, according to...
12/03/2021

Instability in Arizona’s child care system is costing the state's economy an estimated $1.8 billion a year, according to a new
report, as gaps in care force parents to forgo professional and educational opportunities. The findings mirror recent reporting by Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting's Maria Polletta.

The latest:

Instability in Arizona’s child care system is costing the state an estimated $1.8 billion in economic activity a year.

ICYMI: Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting's Maria Polletta appeared on Arizona Horizon this week to discuss her ...
11/24/2021

ICYMI: Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting's Maria Polletta appeared on Arizona Horizon this week to discuss her recent investigation of the state's child care system and how a decade of legislative neglect has impacted providers and families. See the full interview with here:

There has been an issue in Arizona child care for years but a reporter took a recent look at the state of Arizona child care.

The state agency that oversees AZ’s psychiatric hospital says patient safety is a top priority. But two patients have fa...
11/16/2021

The state agency that oversees AZ’s psychiatric hospital says patient safety is a top priority. But two patients have fatally injured themselves in as many weeks, raising questions about oversight and understaffing at the facility.

New from Amy Silverman for AZCIR:

The state agency that oversees Arizona's psychiatric hospital says patient safety is a top priority. But, in October, two patients fatally injured themselves in as many weeks.

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