Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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Search results for "background check" ...

  • The Henry Pratt Mass Shooting

    On the afternoon of Feb. 15, disgruntled warehouse employee Gary Martin opened fire during a termination hearing at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Ill., killing five people and wounding several police officers before being fatally shot by law enforcement. Before police publicly identified Martin, the Tribune learned his name from sources and began investigating his background. One thing quickly became clear: Martin, a convicted felon who had served prison time for attempting to kill his girlfriend, never should have been allowed to purchase the gun used in the shooting. This discovery – aided by carefully worded Freedom of Information Act requests, unparalleled sourcing and a review of extensive court records – prompted the Illinois State Police to disclose hundreds of pages of documents related to Martin’s firearms license and gun purchase within days of the shooting. It was an unprecedented release of information, in terms of both expediency and subject manner. Illinois law expressly prohibits the disclosure of records related to firearm owner’s identification cards or concealed carried permits, but Tribune reporters were able to convince law-enforcement officials that Martin’s firearms history should be exempt from such protections because he fraudulently obtained his license by lying on his permit application. Upon receiving this information, reporters submitted further FOIAs in an effort to understand the depths of the state’s problem. A reporting project that started within hours of a mass shooting grew into an investigation that found 34,000 Illinois had their gun permits revoked – and that the state has no idea what happen to their guns. That meant 78 percent of people stripped of their gun licenses failed to account for their weapons. The responsive records – some of which required difficult fights and keen sourcing to obtain - exposed serious flaws in the national databases relied upon to conduct criminal background checks, as well as the state’s failure to ensure that people surrender their weapons after their Firearm Owner's Identification cards are revoked. In an analysis of data released for the first time, the Tribune found as many as 30,000 guns may still be in possession of people deemed too dangerous to own firearms. The Tribune also was able to create an online-lookup that allowed readers to look up how many people in their town had their gun permits stripped, the reason for the revocation and how many times that person had made a serious inquiry about purchasing a gun.
  • Chicago Police kept secret dossiers on public speakers

    Tribune reporters discovered that Chicago Police were running secret background checks on public speakers at the police board’s monthly disciplinary meetings. Speakers included men and women whose loved ones had been killed by police, attorneys, activists, a religious leader, and even cops themselves. The police department secretly created profiles on more than 300 different speakers, potentially violating a court decree meant to prevent police spying on First Amendment activities. The Tribune also discovered a major discrepancy in how long police ran the secret checks, leading Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to order an inspector general investigation into the matter.
  • Sex Offenders in Nursing Homes

    Our Fox 4 investigation discovered 200 registered sex offenders live in nursing homes, residential care facilities, and assisted living facilities in Missouri. Our statewide investigation revealed learned more than 95% of the offenders committed heinous crimes against children, including child molestation, aggravated sexual abuse, and sodomy. We learned Missouri law does not require these homes to disclose that registered sex offenders live in the facilities. There is also no state law requiring background checks on residents of these facilities.
  • CNN Investigates - Uber Sexual Assault

    CNN Investigates’ multi-part, five month-long reporting project focused on allegations of sexual assaults by drivers of the rideshare giant Uber. Uber pitches itself in advertising as a “safe ride home,” but CNN’s reporting found that in case after case across the country, Uber drivers prey on female passengers, and Uber’s background check process allowed thousands of convicted criminals to become drivers. CNN’s investigation led to safety changes in the Uber app, a change in the background check policy, and a change in Uber’s policy that forced sexual assault victims into arbitration and compelled them to sign non-disclosure agreements.
  • Criminals: Off the Record

    In an age of instantaneous information, people take it for granted that criminals will not be allowed to work in sensitive jobs caring for children, the disabled and the elderly. But that is not the case – at least not in Ohio; 10 Investigates in a joint investigation with the Columbus Dispatch, uncovered problems within the state’s criminal background check system that are so severe they have repeatedly allowed criminals to work as care takers, educators, and foster parents. http://www.10tv.com/content/sections/community/10investigates/index.html
  • Taxi regulation

    The Honolulu Star-Advertiser examined the city's taxi industry and found lax criminal background checks, a broken city complaint hotline and loose oversight. City and state leaders immediately proposed reforms that would make the industry more effective, ethical, transparent and safe for consumers.
  • Children Abused: Deaths Ignored

    This is an ongoing investigation of egregious errors by Denver Human Services and other Colorado human services agencies that have contributed to multiple child deaths and injuries. The investigation has, so far, resulted in new state laws to protect children, the removal of the director of DHS, a statewide audit revealing lack of proper background checks for placement homes, the criminal prosecution of a caseworker for falsifying records, a state-mandated third party review of DHS and its supervision of caseworkers, appointment of a city wide task force to identify child abuse in schools, four separate investigations by the state child protection ombudsman, and the allocation of more than $3-million for new DHS caseworkers and supervisors.
  • Trail of Troubles

    One doctor’s sexual assault charges led reporter Scott Dance to uncover the state’s lack of oversight of the criminal backgrounds of Maryland’s doctors. Maryland does not conduct criminal background checks of its doctors despite at least one attempt to require them. Dr. William Dando was one doctor who fell through the cracks. He was convicted of rape in the 1980s, and came to Maryland to pursue his medical career after his release. Fast forward to 2014, and the same doctor was accused of sexually assaulting several patients. Dance traced Dando’s time in Maryland and all of the ways his past could have been discovered, but state regulatory agencies and medical boards failed to investigate. After Dance’s articles appeared, Dando agreed to give up his license so that Maryland charges would be dropped, an inspector general highlighted flaws in licensing procedures,and the Maryland Board of Physicians proposed legislation to require background checks.
  • Pennsylvania police fail to fingerprint thousands of suspected criminals

    In violation of state law, police in Pennsylvania fail to fingerprint thousands of suspected criminals within 48 hours of arrest. Instead, they routinely rely on judges and jailers – and often the offenders themselves – to capture the prints they’ve missed. For 2013, 30,000 fingerprints were not recorded, according to state data. If a fingerprint is not made, a defendant will not have a complete criminal history at the state and national level. This means background checks will fail to raise warnings for dangerous offenders. We analyzed raw data from the state to find the areas with the worst compliance and contacted those with the best compliance to examine possible solutions.
  • Trail of Troubles

    One doctor’s sexual assault charges led reporter Scott Dance to uncover the state’s lack of oversight of the criminal backgrounds of Maryland’s doctors. Maryland does not conduct criminal background checks of its doctors despite at least one attempt to require them. Dr. William Dando was one doctor who fell through the cracks. He was convicted of rape in the 1980s, and came to Maryland to pursue his medical career after his release. Fast forward to 2014, and the same doctor was accused of sexually assaulting several patients. Dance traced Dando’s time in Maryland and all of the ways his past could have been discovered, but state regulatory agencies and medical boards failed to investigate.