Berkeleyside is thrilled to announce that Alex N. Gecan has joined our newsroom as senior public safety reporter.
Gecan comes to Berkeleyside from the Marin Independent Journal, where he has been reporting on crime, courts and public safety. Before that, Gecan worked for six years as a reporter at the Asbury Park Press in Neptune, New Jersey, covering local government, crime and police misconduct. He was the daily paper’s breaking news reporter for several years.
Gecan, who regularly trains emerging journalists on how to access public records, has won several awards in his 10 years covering public safety.
“Alex’s long experience covering public safety will make him a valuable addition to Berkeleyside’s newsroom as we move to do deeper accountability reporting that investigates the underlying factors driving crime, as well as other trends related to public safety,” said Pamela Turntine, Berkeleyside editor-in-chief. “I am excited to see what he brings to this position.”
While at the Asbury Park Press, Gecan was part of a team that worked on a series that prompted statewide policy changes in law enforcement. Protecting the Shield examined how police officers with prior complaints against them moved from department to department in New Jersey, and how bureaucracies and policies were built or misused to protect abusive officers. The multimedia package they produced spurred the state attorney general to close loopholes allowing abusive officers to find new work in law enforcement, and to sunlight more public records so cases of extreme misconduct could not be kept confidential.
The team’s work was recognized with an Edward R. Murrow Award, a New York City Society of Professional Journalists Award, and an American Bar Association Award.
For Berkeleyside, Gecan will report on serious crime, policing and emergency response in Berkeley, as well as public safety as it relates to road safety and natural disasters.
He will bring accountability and solutions-oriented reporting to his beat in line with Berkeleyside’s mission to provide public safety reporting that keeps our community informed of serious incidents, analyzes trends, explores the underlying causes of, and possible solutions for, violence in our midst, and aims to keep local law enforcement accountable.
Gecan’s arrival comes as Berkeleyside reevaluates its approach to covering public safety in line with news industry best practices, including around issues such as the use of mugshots, when to name suspects and how much focus to place on individual crimes versus larger patterns. We’ll have more to share on this in the coming weeks.
“Berkeleyside has a clear commitment to reporting local news that matters, and to the readers it serves, and I’m excited to be a part of that,” Gecan said. “The city and people of Berkeley appear willing to re-examine entrenched ideas about what works to keep people safe. What worked before might not work forever in a changing world, in public safety as much as in journalism.”
Gecan, who took up the position on March 13, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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