When we started putting together this week's show, we assumed we'd be using the phrase "tarred and feathered" as a metaphor for when someone is publicly shamed. We didn't think we'd find a story about someone being literally tarred and feathered, especially not recently.
The first day on the job inevitably means mistakes, mishaps, and sometimes... fiascos. A true story, told by a former rookie cop.
Former DC police detective Jim Trainum tells reporter Saul Elbein about how his first murder investigation went horribly wrong. He and his colleagues pinned the crime on the wrong woman, and it took 10 years and a revisit to her videotaped confession to realize how much, unbeknownst to Jim at the time, he was one of the main orchestrators of the botched confession.
A person is accused of a murder he didn't commit. But in this story there is no false confession.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie has led some of the most sweeping budget cuts in the country. Producer Sarah Koenig reports from Trenton, where one third of the police force has been laid off, leading to dramatically increased crime.
At three high schools in Palm Beach County, Florida, several young police officers were sent undercover to pose as students, tasked with making drug arrests. And this, this is the setting for a love story, reported by Robbie Brown.
Some adventures you seek out on purpose, and others hunt you down. Producer Alex Blumberg tells this story, about the experience a guy had in China...which started out as first kind of adventure, then quickly turned into the second kind.
Joshuah Bearman's story continues. Chris Butler makes a transition into true criminal behavior.
A few years back, when he and his family were driving home from a vacation in Texas, John Nova Lomax realized that the police were aggressively tailing him. And he was definitely not prepared for the reason they pulled him over.
Host Ira Glass speaks with former FBI agent Bill Tobin about police collusion with organized crime in 1970s Chicago. It turns out that old boys networks like the mob pull in good and bad cops alike.
In Tehran in 2004, Omid Memarian confessed to doing things he'd never done, meeting people he'd never met, following plots he'd never heard of. Why he did that, and why a lot of other people have confessed to the same things, is all in the fine print. This American Life producer Nancy Updike tells the story.
Nancy Updike follows up on a Haaretz newspaper story about a sting operation against a medical marijuana supplier in Israel—a case where being giving was not the best idea.
Host Ira Glass Host talks to Paul Gereffi, a letter carrier in Ft. Lauderdale who helped save the life of a stabbing victim who saw Gereffi's mail truck and flagged him down.
One day, Joe Lipari had a frustrating encounter with a worker at the Apple Store. And then Joe did what a lot of us would do: He vented.
For 17 months, New York police officer Adrian Schoolcraft recorded himself and his fellow officers on the job, including their supervisors ordering them to do all sorts of things that police aren't supposed to do. For example, downgrading real crimes into lesser ones, so they wouldn't show up in the crime statistics and make their precinct look bad.
Ira speaks with Richard Dorsay, who became famous in 2004 when police learned that for years Richard and a friend had been living inside of a Chicago bridge. And this was no ordinary bridge.
Michael May tells the story of Barry Cooper, a former crooked narcotics cop who has turned his interest elsewhere...to busting crooked narcotics cops. But after Cooper and a rich benefactor team up to set a trap for the police, Barry's plans are put in jeopardy—including his dream of creating a reality show called "Kop Busters." Michael May is the Culture editor at the Texas Observer.
James Spring had hit his late 30s, and found his life utterly unremarkable. He needed to do something big.
The same year Penn State was named #1 party school, State College was named the safest metropolitan area in the country. Producer Aaron Scott goes out with a State College police officer to see what it takes to keep it safe.
A couple in Texas find a seemingly abandoned car and think they've stumbled across a crime scene. And they're right...but not in the way they imagined.
Host Ira Glass talks a veteran police officer about a time in his 20s when he gets sent to a car accident—and it turns out the driver at fault was a nicely dressed chimpanzee. The chimp seemed harmless enough until the other police officer on duty tries to arrest the chimp&'s owner.
While riding in a patrol car to research a novel, crime writer Richard Price witnessed a misunderstanding that for many people is pretty much accepted as an upsetting fact of life. Richard Price told this story—which he describes as a tale taken from real life and dramatized—onstage at the Moth in New York.
Regular This American Life contributor Dan Savage, a syndicated sex columnist with possibly the filthiest mouth of anyone you could ever meet, finds a TV program so dirty, so weird, and so perverted that he won't let his son watch it—even though it's a kids' show, made for kids, and broadcast on a network for kids.
In a way, it's the most classic cat-and-mouse game of all: A nimble graffiti writer dashes out into the night to leave his mark. Watching and waiting for him are the stronger—if less agile—NYPD Vandal Squad, whose sole mission is their arrest.