Daily news stories always answer the “who, what, when, where” of important events. Sometimes reporters cannot look into the “why” because they lack time and resources. That’s where investigative journalists step in. They can go the extra mile to pursue less-accessible information or sources. Using analytical thinking and investigative reporting, they find patterns in large datasets reflecting broader issues.
In the above video, reporter Chris Glorioso discusses journalistic tools used in NBC 4 New York’s investigative reporting. Read below to see how the NBC 4 I-Team determined how many New York City day care centers are near areas of drug activity.
How NBC 4 mapped all drug arrests near city day care centers
In September, a 1-year-old child died and three children fell ill after being exposed to a kilogram of fentanyl in a Bronx day care center. NYPD investigators realized a drug operation used the center as a base and fentanyl was found on children’s play mats.
NBC 4 New York I-Team and Telemundo 47 Investiga worked together to see if there was a larger trend of drug activity, measured in drug arrests, taking place near day care centers. The answer needed to come from large datasets rather than interviews.
“It would be one thing for me to call a couple of police precincts. I would probably find one or two people who I know or who trust me, who would say, ‘Yeah, I think I remember an arrest near a day care center.’ But that’s not comprehensive,” Glorioso said. “That’s not really answering the question that we’re seeking to ask.”
The I-Team didn’t have the capability to compare the location of drug arrests with day care center addresses. But the police reports include a crucial detail: longitude and latitude of every arrest. The investigators also found a state database that lists the longitude and latitude of over 7,000 regulated day care centers in New York City.
They overlaid those two sets of plot points, resulting in a color-coded interactive map. All five boroughs of New York City had drug arrests during the first half of 2023 that took place within 100 meters of a day care center. Visitors to the interactive map can zoom in and check particular day care centers. They can also zoom out to see dozens of others located near multiple drug arrests.
Neighborhoods like Harlem in Manhattan and Tremont in the Bronx also have multiple day care centers that each had 12 or more drug arrests in the immediate vicinity.
Glorioso hopes the map can help people better understand the issue and also ask “tough questions” that lead to solutions.
“A long time ago, there were drug arrests happening near schools, and we had the ‘drug-free school zone.’ Do we have drug-free day care zones?” Glorioso asked. “Is that something someone might think about, after we show people how often this happens?”