Maine is one of only a few states where law enforcement discipline records are public. But that doesn't always result in transparency. Credit: Illustration by Natalie Williams / BDN

The Bangor Daily News has won the January Sidney Award for its series Lawmen Off Limits, the Sidney Hillman Foundation announced Wednesday.

The series, written by Erin Rhoda, Josh Keefe and Callie Ferguson, exposed holes in the systems of accountability for county law enforcement.

Combining on-the-ground reporting and broad public records requests, the Maine Focus team illuminated how sheriffs accused of wrongdoing cannot be placed on leave while they’re investigated, showed how the public is often kept in the dark about officers’ most egregious behavior, and revealed how Maine’s police overseer doesn’t have authority to punish officers for a range of misconduct.

The Sidney Hillman Foundation, based in New York, gives the Sidney Award monthly to an outstanding piece of journalism that appeared during the prior month. Recent winners include the Associated Press, Bloomberg Businessweek, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Verge and The New York Times.

Bangor Daily News subscribers can download a PDF of the major installments of the series here. The series was produced with financial support from the Pulitzer Center.

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the...