Dan Hinkel joins Injustice Watch as a senior reporter

The veteran Chicago journalist has spent more than two decades investigating police and prosecutorial misconduct in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

Dan Hinkel, a longtime Chicago journalist who has specialized in criminal justice reporting over his award-winning career, is joining Injustice Watch as a senior reporter.

Hinkel spent more than a decade at the Chicago Tribune, where his investigations spotlighted official ineptitude and corruption within law enforcement and drove changes to policy and leadership in police departments and prosecutor’s offices in both the city and suburbs.

A headshot of a white man with a short beard and a blue button-down shirt standing outside.

Dan Hinkel

Early in his career, Hinkel covered the federal courts and local politics for The Times of Northwest Indiana. Most recently, he was an investigative reporter for the Illinois Answers Project. His first day at Injustice Watch is April 1.

“I’m really excited to join all these talented people at this growing organization, and get to work exposing problems with our institutions and holding the powerful to account,” Hinkel said.

At the Tribune, his reporting revealed a rarely discussed but significant expense of police misconduct in Chicago — $213 million in fees and costs over 15 years for private attorneys in civil rights cases against the city.

In 2015, his investigation into the Waukegan Police Department found a troubling history of investigative failures and abuse allegations, as well as a record of wrongful convictions worse than nearly every other police department in the state. His reporting led to an overhaul of the Lake County state’s attorney’s office and federal intervention in the Waukegan Police Department.

He played a key role in the Tribune’s coverage of “Chicago’s Cop Crisis” in 2016, which won the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Award for best investigative reporting. In 2021, he covered the Kyle Rittenhouse trial as a freelancer for The New York Times.

Most recently, he investigated Mayor Lori Lighfoot’s failed promise to spend more than $400 million on social programs she touted as fighting crime.

“Dan’s reporting on the criminal legal system goes beyond the headlines and press releases and seeks to highlight where politicians and policymakers have fallen short of their promises of reform,” said Jonah Newman, Injustice Watch’s managing editor. “He is a consummate collaborator and newsroom leader whose approach to reporting aligns perfectly with Injustice Watch’s mission.”

A native of Wisconsin and a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison, Hinkel lives in Chicago with his wife, Michelle, and their dogs, Violet and Larry. Their home often echoes with the sounds of Dan’s drum set, music on the stereo, and frequent horror movie screenings.