Jeff Cohen


Jeff Cohen is a proud New Orleans native who now calls New England home. Or at least his second home.

He started in newspapers in 2001 and joined WNPR in 2010, where he is a reporter and an occasional fill-in host for All Things Considered.

In addition to covering state and Hartford city politics, Jeff covered the December 2012 Newtown shootings and the stories that followed.  Much of that work was featured on NPR.  Also in 2012, Jeff was selected by NPR and Kaiser Health News for their joint Health Care In The States project. That work resulted in several national stories, including ones on the Affordable Care Act and medical education.

Jeff was also selected by the Tow Foundation and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice as a fellow in their 2012 juvenile justice reporting project.

Before working at WNPR, Jeff worked as the city reporter for The Hartford Courant.  While at the Courant, he won a National Headliner Award for a Northeast Magazine story about the ostracized widow of the state's first casualty in Iraq; wrote about his post-Katrina, flooded out home in New Orleans; and was part of a team of reporters that broke the stories of alleged corruption at Hartford City Hall that led to the arrest of former Mayor Eddie A. Perez. 

He also worked at the Meriden Record-Journal and as a freelancer for The New York Times.

Jeff lives in Middletown with his wife, cats, and two trouble-making kids. Thanks to the kids, he's now writing children's books. The first, published by HarperCollins Children's Books, comes out in early 2014.  He likes to make bread and wine.


Civil Rights
8:28 am
Fri October 4, 2013

East Haven Police Officers on Trial

East Haven police officer Dennis Spaulding and his wife leave court in late September in Hartford.
Credit Melanie Stengel / The New Haven Register

Two police officers from East Haven are facing charges that they harassed Latinos and violated their civil rights. Prosecutors are making their cases against David Cari and Dennis Spaulding in Hartford federal court. As they do, they're calling members of East Haven's largely Ecuadoran community to testify.

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Lockdown During the Shutdown
3:53 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

U.S. Capitol Shooting: Report From the Inside

Credit Matanya / Flickr Creative Commons

Billy House, a Congressional correspondent for National Journal, was in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol when gunfire was reported outdoors, behind a Senate building nearby. He provided an account of the brief lockdown that occurred in Washington, D.C. on Thursday afternoon.

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Access Health CT
7:29 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Malloy Calls Obamacare Rollout "Historic"

Governor Dannel Malloy and others at a ribbon-cutting for Access Health CT.
Credit Jeff Cohen/WNPR

Connecticut has about 344,000 residents who live without health insurance. The goal of the new law, also known as Obamacare, was to figure out a way to get them covered through private insurers at a reasonable cost.

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Shots - Health News
2:04 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Connecticut's Insurance Website Struggles At Opening

The online health exchange in Connecticut got off to a bumpy start Tuesday.

Today is the day the uninsured can sign up for insurance on Connecticut's new health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act. But technical glitches have hampered the rollout.

Kevin Counihan is pretty good at managing expectations. He's the head of Access Health CT, the agency that runs the state's new health insurance marketplace.

He's got his eyes on 2016 and beyond. By then, he says, we'll be able to judge whether the health care overhaul has succeeded.

So, for him, Oct. 1 may be exciting, but it's not all that telling.

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It's Hard to Access Health CT
1:21 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

State's Obamacare Website Struggling on Day One

Kevin Counihan.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Today is the day the uninsured can enroll in the state's new health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act. But technical glitches have hampered the rollout.

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3:02 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Delays Continue for Metro-North Commuters

Credit Connor Harris / Creative Commons

After a power failure crippled the New Haven line of the Metro-North Railroad last Wednesday, service is slowly improving. Governor Dannel Malloy said it won't be until next week that the power situation is fixed. He also said the railroad has been able to get about 50 percent of its trains running.

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All Aboard?
4:34 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Malloy: Metro-North Should Pay You Back

Gov. Dannel Malloy on his way to a meeting of the state's bond commission Friday.
Credit Jeff Cohen/WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy said he wants Metro-North Railroad to pay Connecticut customers for tickets they can't use as a result of the service outage. The power failure along an eight-mile section of the New Haven line has frustrated commuters and politicians alike. Officials said it could take weeks to repair.

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Health Care Overhaul
9:36 am
Fri September 27, 2013

With Obamacare, Not Everything Is Public Information

A redacted contractual document from Access Health CT, obscuring information about how much contractor Maximus is paid.
Jeff Cohen WNPR

The nation's new health care law rolls out next week. One essential part of that is a call center to both field questions and enroll people. But it's not clear how much the private company taking these calls, Maximus Health Services, is actually charging taxpayers. 

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Obamacare's Bad Rap
9:28 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Changes are Coming to Health Care, But That Doesn't Mean People Like It

A national survey by UConn showed an unfavorable view of the Affordable Care Act.
Credit UConn

Most Americans don't like the new federal health care law that begins enrollment next week, according to a new national poll from the University of Connecticut. It's not that Americans don't want the government to help cover the uninsured. It's that they specifically don't like this law: the Affordable Care Act.

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East Haven Cops In Court
12:23 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

WNPR On NPR: 2 Connecticut Police Officers Accused Of Intimidating Latinos

Customers line up for lunch at Guti'z Bakery in East Haven last week.
Credit Jeff Cohen/WNPR

The town of East Haven has gotten national attention for years for its alleged treatment of Latinos.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division has said the town's police department had a deeply-rooted practice of discrimination.  And four of the town's police officers have been arrested.  Now, this week, two of those officers are on trial in federal court in Hartford.

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East Haven
6:58 am
Tue September 24, 2013

2 Connecticut Police Officers Accused Of Intimidating Latinos

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 8:38 pm



It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

Two Connecticut police officers are on trial in federal court this week. They're accused of harassing and intimidating Latino residents in the city of East Haven. The police department there has been working to change a culture of discrimination. Jeff Cohen of our member station WNPR has the story.

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Spoiler Alert: the Food Pantry Wins
1:39 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

The Fight Between a Food Pantry and Hartford's West End

The Grace Seventh-Day Adventist Church runs a food pantry for two hours a week. Some neighbors don't apparently like it.
Credit City of Hartford

A Hartford church operates a food pantry for two hours a week, helping to feed the hungry.

But it does so in an expensive part of town, the city's West End, less than a half-mile from the house of Mayor Pedro Segarra and across the street from the beautiful Elizabeth Park. It has caused a bit of controversy, which has been quite well documented elsewhere. (There's this, too.)

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Health Care
6:05 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Connecticut Takes Obamacare To The People

Outreach worker Emanuela Cebert (right) talks to Papilon Ferreiras about health insurance outside a rap concert.
Jeff Cohen WNPR

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 8:12 am

All across Connecticut, you can see billboards and TV ads, hear radio spots and get pamphlets about how to get insurance under the new health care law starting Oct. 1.

But the state is also using less traditional, and more expensive, ways to get the word out.

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Race for Governor
10:53 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Voter Fraud Or No Voter Fraud In 2010?

Tom Foley concedes the 2010 election for governor.
Credit WNPR

When he conceded the gubernatorial election in 2010, Republican Tom Foley said there was "no credible evidence" of voter fraud

Now, Foley says he's exploring a run in 2014.  And, looking back, the Republican says that while there was no evidence of fraud in 2010, he's convinced the system is full of it.  Fraud, that is.  Without it, he says he would have won. 

That got a rise of out Malloy's former advisor, Roy Occhiogrosso, on Twitter.

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Race for Governor
4:30 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Foley Exploring Run For Governor, Suggests Malloy Is Corrupt

Tom Foley explores a run for governor.
Credit Jeff Cohen/WNPR

Republican Tom Foley is exploring a run for governor.  He's also exploring ways to take shots at Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy.

One way he's doing that is by suggesting that Malloy is corrupt -- that he, among other things, gave state business to friends who did favors for him.

But when pressed later by Mark Pazniokas of the Connecticut Mirror to get specific, Foley wouldn't.

Welcome to the 2014 gubernatorial election.

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4:23 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Are Cars For City Employees A Good Idea?

Rhonda Moniz-Carroll was arrested by Hartford police for DUI after an accident. She is a city worker who was driving her city car at the time.
Credit Hartford Police Department

The Hartford City Council is considering a plan to ban the use of nearly all take-home city vehicles. This comes after a weekend in which a city department supervisor got in an accident after driving drunk in her city-issued car. 

The question of who should have a city car has been around for a while. But it got new attention after the former chief of staff to Mayor Pedro Segarra was arrested for using his city car after he resigned from his job.

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Health Care
2:55 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Connecticut Says it's Ready to Implement New Health Care Marketplace

There's just a month to go before those without health insurance can go online to buy it through a state-sponsored website. The goal of the Affordable Care Act is to offer health insurance to more people at a lower cost. And now, the next step is upon us.

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Freedom of Information
3:31 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Legislator Walks Back Michael Moore Comment, Stands By Vote

A big question since the massacre at Sandy Hook is how much, if any, information from the crime scene should be released to the public. That debate continues. The question at hand isn't should the state have passed a bipartisan, sweeping new law to exempt crime scene evidence from public disclosure. The question is should it have done so in secret, at the end of the legislative session, without public hearing.

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Freedom of Information
5:25 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Newtown, the Public's Right to Know, and Michael Moore?

A state task force trying to figure out how to balance victim privacy with the public's right to know is stacked in favor of privacy.  That's according to a former newspaper editor and the head of a Connecticut open government group. The group is in the early stages of defining its mission.

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Health Care
3:41 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Health Premiums Up, But Modestly

A lot of Americans get their health insurance from their job. And according to a new study, the price of that insurance went up by about four percent last year. A new report finds that annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $16,300 this year -- up four percent over last year.

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4:00 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Differing Takes On Test Scores In Hartford

In Hartford, school district officials say test scores held firm and showed some healthy gains. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the way you talk about test scores can be just as important as the scores themselves. It wasn't the press release Matt Poland would have written. "I would have written it with both the good and the not-so-good sharing common billing."

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Nickel and Diming
1:23 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Anyone Remember the Bottle Bill?

The state Supreme Court has overturned a $6 million award to beer and soda distributors who sued the state.

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Urban Forest
12:36 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Hartford to Plant 1,000 Trees

The city of Hartford loses a few hundred trees each year. But now, in a partnership with a local non-profit, the city is poised to plant 1,000 new trees this fall. The goal is to plant 20,000 trees over the next ten years.  It's an ambitious program that began last year with the first 1,000 trees planted.  Now, the city wants to spend $425,000 to keep things going.

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1:59 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Hartford Wants to Improve Downtown Traffic

If you've ever gotten stuck in traffic in downtown Hartford, you'll like this story. The city is applying for a grant that will allow it to upgrade traffic signals in the central business district. The plan is to reduce congestion.

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10:17 am
Tue August 6, 2013

New Rules for Jury Duty and Pre-Trial Publicity

Credit Deborah Cheramie/iStock / Thinkstock

Exposure to pre-trial publicity is an issue when it comes to selecting jurors. The state Supreme Court has issued a new rule that will affect every trial court in Connecticut. Right after a juror is selected, he or she will have to agree to a policy that says three things: They'll decide the case only using the evidence from trial, they'll avoid all publicity about the case, and if exposed to publicity about the case, they'll tell the court. That's the new rule. And, if you ask Mark Dubois, it's a significant one.

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2:43 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Sept. 11 Graffiti on State Highways Gets State's Attention

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

If you drive on Hartford-area highways, you've probably seen it -- graffiti on state bridges that refer to the attacks of September 11. They've become an annoyance for the state.

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Freedom of Information
3:36 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Panel Meets to Balance the Public Interest With Victims' Rights

The tragedy in Newtown prompted a series of legislative responses. One of them was to create a task force that will look at the balance between the public's right to know and victim privacy.

That task force held its first meeting to consider how much information about a crime should be released to the public, and how much the public has a right to know. Those are questions before a 17-member panel tasked with reporting back to state lawmakers by January 1.

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Hospital Care
2:42 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

St. Francis Changes Course, Funds Program for Expectant Mothers Month-To-Month

 But the hospital has apparently had a change of heart. Last month, St. Francis told the city that it would no longer fund the program. But Raul Pino, the city's health director, says the hospital has let him know it has reversed its course. "They have informed us that they are funding the program on a month-to-month basis." Pino says the hospital will also conduct an analysis of the program to see if it is running efficiently.

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Mental Health
4:45 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

How A Family Copes With Schizophrenia And Suicide

Homer Bell's family: sister Laura Bell (from left), sister Regina Bell, mother Rosalind Scott and stepfather Jack Wilcox.
Jeff Cohen WNPR

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 7:21 pm

Homer Bell was 54 years old when he killed himself in April in a very public way — he laid down his head in front of a stopped bus in his hometown of Hartford, Conn. It was the last act in a life filled with struggle, as Bell and his family endured his schizophrenia.

At a time when there are calls to strengthen the mental health system, Bell's story shows how hard coping with mental illness can be.

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