Martin Kaste

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy, as well as news from the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to general assignment reporting in the U.S., Kaste has contributed to NPR News coverage of major world events, including the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2011 uprising in Libya.

Kaste has reported on the government's warrant-less wiretapping practices as well as the data-collection and analysis that go on behind the scenes in social media and other new media. His privacy reporting was cited in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 United States v. Jones ruling concerning GPS tracking.

Before moving to the West Coast, Kaste spent five years as NPR's reporter in South America. He covered the drug wars in Colombia, the financial meltdown in Argentina, the rise of Brazilian president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and the fall of Haiti's president Jean Bertrand Aristide. Throughout this assignment, Kaste covered the overthrow of five presidents in five years.

Prior to joining NPR in 2000, Kaste was a political reporter for Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul for seven years.

Kaste is a graduate of Carleton College, in Northfield, Minnesota.

This week in Washington, thousands of sworn officers gathered for National Police Week, an annual commemoration of the lives of officers who've died on the job.

This year it was hard for participants to escape the shadow of the anti-police protests of the past nine months. One of the week's events, a memorial bicycle ride, even was rerouted away from Baltimore, to make sure the nearly 2,000 officers participating in the ride wouldn't become targets.

Law enforcement officers have come under pressure over the past few months to rethink how they use deadly force, as a result of the string of videos of shootings by police.

But recently, police have been talking about another video — one that shows an officer not shooting.

The surprise announcement of criminal charges in Baltimore Friday morning definitely got the attention of police officers. The decision has been welcomed by protesters, but it's causing dismay for law enforcement across the country.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And that new information Jeff spoke of now goes on to the Baltimore state's attorney. NPR's Martin Kaste reports on what happens now.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Bob Ball is a real estate investor in Portland, Ore., but that's just his day job. For the past 20 years, he has also been a volunteer cop.

"When I was new, it was the best time of my life. I got to go out there and wear a white hat and help people and make a difference in my community, one little piece at a time," Ball says. "That's a very, very fulfilling thing to do."

This is real police work. On one occasion, Ball had to pull his gun on a guy threatening a woman with a knife.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A cell phone video of a police shooting has led to murder charges against an officer in South Carolina.

(SOUNDBITE OF CELL PHONE VIDEO, GUN SHOTS HEARD)

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

When James Craig was a young man in the 1970s, he says law-abiding people wouldn't dream of carrying guns. But then he left town to pursue a career in policing. In the years he was gone, Michigan liberalized its gun laws, making it easier for people to get concealed-carry permits.

When he came back to become Detroit's police chief in 2013, he found a whole new reality.

"You would have thought, given the dynamic of people who carry weapons, that we were maybe in Texas," he says. "But in fact, we were in Detroit, Michigan!"

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Criminologists say the country's poor homicide clearance rate could be improved if police departments put more effort into solving murders. To reduce the backlog in Detroit, homicide detectives are returning to old cases that might be solved with new techniques.

If you're murdered in America, there's a 1 in 3 chance that the police won't identify your killer.

To use the FBI's terminology, the national "clearance rate" for homicide today is 64.1 percent. Fifty years ago, it was more than 90 percent.

And that's worse than it sounds, because "clearance" doesn't equal conviction: It's just the term that police use to describe cases that end with an arrest, or in which a culprit is otherwise identified without the possibility of arrest — if the suspect has died, for example.

Violent crime in America has been falling for two decades. That's the good news. The bad news is, when crimes occur, they mostly go unpunished.

In fact, for most major crimes, police don't even make an arrest or identify a suspect. That's what police call "clearing" a crime; the "clearance rate" is the percentage of offenses cleared.

In 2013, the national clearance rate for homicide was 64 percent, and it's far lower for other violent offenses and property crimes.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

A new statistical analysis by the Justice Department estimates that the government has been undercounting the number of people killed by police. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, it's been undercounting those stats by half.

On Valentine's Day weekend, Jonathan Hutson found himself exchanging tweets with somebody unpleasant: a Holocaust-denying anti-Semite, by the look of things.

Then Hutson looked up the person's earlier tweets. This guy was tweeting about shooting up a school. He said that he wanted to execute 30-plus grade-school kids."

So Hutson decided to draw the person out — "engage with him," as he puts it — to see if the threats were real.

Late last month, during a meeting of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, a shoving match broke out among members of the public — some of them off-duty police officers.

The cause of the tension was a proposal to create a new civilian oversight authority for the police. Advocates of police reform like civilian oversight, but police officers say the boards are often politicized and unfair to them.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Earlier this week in a San Francisco courthouse, a deputy public defender named Jami Tillotson challenged police who were trying to take pictures of her client, and the police handcuffed her and took her away. The public defender's office angrily accused the officer of intimidation, but what caught our attention was the reason for her arrest.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

How much oil and gas is really at stake at ANWR? Well, nobody's really sure. NPR's Martin Kaste reports this decades-old political fight is based on rough estimates of what's really in the ground.

Wearable video cameras are fast becoming standard-issue gear for American police. The cameras promise a technological answer to complaints about racial bias and excessive force.

But in fact, the beneficial effects of body cameras are not well-established yet. And the police departments that rushed to buy them are now dealing with some unintended consequences.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Police officers in New York City are not working as hard as usual.

For the past two weeks, the number of arrests, summonses and tickets issued has dropped dramatically, and many consider it a purposeful slowdown by officers who are angry at Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The federal government is throwing the book at one of the most vocal critics of the polygraph test.

Doug Williams, a man who makes his living teaching people how to beat the test, will go on trial in January on charges of witness tampering and mail fraud. But Williams' defenders say he's being punished by a government that has become overly dependent on polygraphs.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Pages