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The $293,000 Cop: How we came to write the story

The public needs to know how the government is spending the people's money.

That's the bottom line on this story about former Cheektowaga Police Lt. Kenneth Hycner.

Every year, The Buffalo News gathers various public documents from all levels of government. Things like municipal budgets, payrolls and contracts. As beat reporters, we study them when we get them, and then keep them within reach as reference materials.

In the case of this story, Susan Schulman, the head of our investigation team, noticed the salary when reviewing Cheektowaga's public payroll. I looked into the situation over the course of about six weeks. I tracked down more information from the town — all of it in the public realm and accessible by anyone who wants to see it — and then started asking questions.

I also spoke with people in other town governments to find out how they handled things. Personnel costs are the biggest expense for every local government.

As part of this news organization's role as a watchdog, we wanted to make sure you know how your money's being spent and what decisions your elected leaders are making.

Lt. Ken Hycner put in 32 years in the police department. No one is trying to take that or any of his compensation away from him. We're just trying to shed a little light on how things work in the town of Cheektowaga.

— Aaron Besecker

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