Philadelphia reporter Claudia Lauer, a member of AP's law enforcement team, had heard a rumor about a private Facebook page where western Pennsylvania police officers shared distasteful and malicious posts. She spent a year gently working sources in Pittsburgh, until one finally confirmed the Pittsburgh Area Police Breakroom page existed. The source, over a few months, helped Lauer acquire information found on the page, including transphobic, racist and bullying posts.
Lauer, along with news associate Thalia Beaty, took a hard look at the officers with the most egregious posts. She then went to Pittsburgh with New York video journalist Ted Shaffrey and Pittsburgh photographer Keith Srakocic to confront some of the officers, including a police chief listed as an administrator of the Facebook group. The result was an all-formats investigative story that appeared on numerous newspaper landing pages and generated high engagement on social media. Facebook reached out to AP not long after the story went live to say the offensive page was removed for violating company policy and to give an official comment.