August 31st, 2012

Average number of days that a veteran who goes to the Los Angeles, California waits for the government to respond to his or her disability claim as of 07/2012. Increased by +39.0% in the prior 1.3 years.

See how long veterans in your area are waiting to hear on their disability claims in this interactive map from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

April 30th, 2012

California still leads nation in Iraq, Afghan war casualties

When Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas Johnson’s Black Hawk helicopter went down during bad weather April 19, killing him and three others, he became the 671st service member from California to die in the combined Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

A brief Department of Defense statement from April 24 said the crash occurred in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Johnson and the rest of his crew were assigned to an Army aviation regiment based in Hawaii. U-T San Diego later reported that the 27-year-old Johnson was on his first deployment, attended Chino High School in San Bernardino County and is survived by a wife and child.

California continues to lead the nation in fatal sacrifices made to the conflicts, according to an analysis of the most recent Defense Department data available. The figures, which include both hostile and non-hostile casualties, cover three major operations across the two wars: Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Read more.

Photo: Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas Johnson. Credit: U.S. Army

March 30th, 2012

Flashlights, exercise equipment, trumpets, gun parts, combat coats, pistol holsters, water canteens, radios, laptops, M16 rifles, helicopters, microwaves, survival kits, workout equipment, bayonet knives, ammunition cans.

A list of some of the surplus military equipment that California law enforcement agencies received last year. More than 17,000 local agencies across the country have taken advantage of the Defense Department’s equipment giveaways. California police accumulated more equipment in 2011 than any other year in the program’s two-decade history.  See what your community has received by searching our online database.

March 30th, 2012

Among its fleet of helicopters, patrol cars, inmate buses and other vehicles, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department keeps four long-haul semitrailers ready to go at a moment’s notice. 

Their purpose: Travel the country retrieving discarded – and free of charge – U.S. military hand-me-downs for its deputies to use in California.

M16 rifles, helicopters, microwaves, survival kits, workout equipment, bayonet knives, ammunition cans and more – the LA sheriff’s office snaps up an average of $4 million to $5 million in surplus military equipment annually.

For example, in this photo Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Watkins shows one of five H-3 helicopters transferred from the military. It’s now used for search and rescue and SWAT transport. Read our full investigation.

December 21st, 2011

From 2002-2011, California received $3,880,698,360 in homeland security grants. Learn more in CIR’s interactive map.


The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan represent only a fraction of the billions spent to battle terrorists since Sept. 11, 2001. Lawmakers in Washington have shelled out some $34 billion over the last 10 years to state and local law enforcement. Our new map shows how much each state has raked in by grant program and fiscal year, based on data obtained from the Department of Homeland Security.

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California Watch, the largest investigative journalism team operating in the state, was launched in 2009 by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting. Areas of coverage include education, health and welfare, public safety, the environment and the influence of money on the political and regulatory process.