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.

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Law
5:25 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Too Often, Some Say, Volunteer Officers Just Want To Play Cop

Tulsa County, Okla., reserve deputy Robert Bates leaves his arraignment with attorney Tuesday. Bates fatally shot a suspect who was pinned down by officers, raising alarms about volunteer police officers who wear badges and carry gun.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 5:30 pm

Bob Ball is a real estate investor in Portland, Ore. — but that's just his day job. For the last 20 years, he's 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.

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Race
6:19 am
Sun April 12, 2015

Cop Shooting Victim's Family Calls For Calm In South Carolina

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 10:01 am

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

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Around the Nation
5:09 pm
Sat April 11, 2015

As Scott Family Reels From Police Shooting, Hundreds Turn Out For Funeral

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 8:04 pm

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

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Law
3:52 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

Charleston Civil Rights Leaders Point To Gentrification In Racial Justice Debate

Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 6:30 pm

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

Law
3:36 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Police Officers Debate Effectiveness Of Anti-Bias Training

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 6:48 pm

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

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Race
3:00 am
Thu April 2, 2015

More African-Americans Support Carrying Legal Guns For Self-Defense

Rick Ector trains new gun owners at a range just outside of Detroit. He supports more African-Americans getting permits to carry concealed weapons.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 9:08 am

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!"

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U.S.
4:37 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Open Cases: Why One-Third Of Murders In America Go Unresolved

Detective Mark Williams (right) speaks with an officer in Richmond, Va. A decade ago, amid a surge in violent crime, Richmond police were identifying relatively few murder suspects. So the police department refocused its efforts to bring up its "clearance rate."
Alex Matzke for NPR

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 9:22 pm

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.

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U.S.
4:12 am
Mon March 30, 2015

How Many Crimes Do Your Police 'Clear'? Now You Can Find Out

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 4:22 pm

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.

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Around the Nation
4:31 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Awash In Social Media, Cops Still Need The Public To Detect Threats

Some colleges and police departments are starting to use software that scans social media to identify local threats, but most tips still come from members of the public.
Ikon Images/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 10:30 am

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.

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Law
9:18 am
Sat February 21, 2015

Police Are Learning To Accept Civilian Oversight, But Distrust Lingers

Late last month, a scuffle cut short a St. Louis Board of Aldermen meeting where a committee was to discuss a proposed civilian review board for the city's police force.
Robert Cohen Courtesy of St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 12:48 am

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.

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