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

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  • Spearing Cars in the Name of Safety

    Guardrails on the nation's highways are supposed to protect us. Too often, though, they have inflicted harm. Patrick G. Lee investigated how a Texas company altered its taxpayer-funded guardrail system under the government's nose, to potentially deadly effect. Months before other media, Lee exposed the potential hazard posed by Trinity Industries Inc.'s ET-Plus end terminal, a 175-pound piece of steel mounted at the ends of a guardrail. Intended to absorb the force of a crash, some of them lock up, piercing cars and their occupants. Lee recounted one would-be whistleblower's cross-country quest, starting in late 2011, to learn why these systems were spearing cars. The discovery: Trinity had modified the ET-Plus more than a half-decade earlier without telling regulators. The newer version, modified to cut manufacturing costs, was malfunctioning, several plaintiffs alleged.
  • DC taxis for all? WUSA9 undercover video documents broken system and broken promises

    Working overnights and weekends for a year, undercover WUSA9 cameras documented repeated, blatant discrimination against black, blind, and wheel chair passengers and broken promises from the agency in charge to fix it. In response to the WUSA9 investigation, DC Taxicab Commission Chairman Ron Linton is battling a call for his resignation while at the same time bungling agency responses to each broadcast. The DC Office of Human Rights credited WUSA9 for promting its own investigation into Linton's response, the DC Taxicab Commission, and the DC Taxicab industry. Meantime, our cameras continue to document daily racism on the streets of the nation's capital where, in our tests, 25% to 33% of black passengers were ignored by drivers, who often were caught on tape stopping for white decoy passengers 100 feet down the street.
  • Motorcycle Madness

    When a video surfaced depicting a group of motorcyclists following and eventually assaulting the driver of a passing SUV, all eyes turned to Senior Correspondent John Miller, a former Deputy Commissioner of the NYPD, for information and analysis. Only on CBS This Morning, Kevin Bresloff, the man who shot the original helmet camera video of the incident, broke his silence. John Miller’s report included an interview with Bresloff’s lawyer, who provided us with his original helmet camera video and an explanation of what happened that day. Mr. Miller was one of few able to collect information about the motorcycle ride and assault in the aftermath of the video, when the NYPD said very little about the incident to the public. In addition to reporting immediate and accurate information, Mr. Miller was later able to get the first on-camera conversation with an involved officer who had been undercover and taken a week to come forward following the assault.
  • Fictitious Driver Licenses Revealed

    For decades, police officers in the state of Washington have been able to obtain false driver licenses for undercover work. But this quasi-secret program inside the state Department of Licensing was never authorized by the legislature. Even the state’s governor was unaware. Not only that. It turns out the biggest recipient of these licenses wasn’t undercover police for the state of Washington. It was the CIA. Our coverage began with an initial feature on the program. But that lead to several spot news development and then longer features on the revelations that we uncovered.
  • License to Swill

    The Better Government Association and NBC 5 found that numerous Illinois police and fire labor contracts allow police officers and firefighters to arrive at work with a blood-alcohol level up to and including 0.079 – just below 0.08, at which drivers are legally considered intoxicated in Illinois. Turns out such contract language is, in many cases, decades-old and carried from one labor agreement to the next with little thought. The hazards of first responders being allowed to work “buzzed” is obvious: They deal with life-and-death decisions – whether in burning buildings or while pointing guns at suspects – that demand good decision-making and proper reaction times that alcohol can compromise. Our story came on the heels of the City of Chicago approving a $4.1 million settlement to the family of an unarmed man fatally shot by an on-duty Chicago cop who had been drinking alcohol prior to his shift.
  • Police turn a blind eye for City Manager

    The ABC Action News I-Team took an in-depth look at issues, circumstances, and policies that led officers to release a Tampa Bay area city manager, who was found passed out behind the wheel of a running car in the middle of the road. The dashcam video and police reports reveal Tom O’Neill could not stand, walk or talk without assistance. Yet the officer closed the case as a medical call. O’Neill was found in the town he once ran which borders the small city he now over sees. The I-team, through multiple public records requests, discovered a series of phone calls and radio dispatches that led O’Neill’s own police chief to leave his jurisdiction and respond to the scene. His actions contributed to Port Richey Police turning a blind eye to a drunk driver whose blood alcohol level was later found to be four times the legal limit.
  • Blood In The Streets

    The Orlando metropolitan region is a classic example of late 20th century-sprawl, lacking in comprehensive urban planning and built around available roads. The metropolis experienced explosive growth following the founding of Walt Disney World (1971), SeaWorld Orlando (1973) and Universal Orlando (1988.) Government agencies responded to the growing population's transportation needs primarily by making the existing roads wider and faster. By the 21st century it became apparent that pedestrians were never a significant part of the planning. It became apparent because so many of them were getting run down and killed, even though most people, it seemed, avoided walking. By almost all accounts Orlando had become the most dangerous city in the country for pedestrians. The Orlando Sentinel set out to explore the plight of pedestrians and the drivers who hit them, telling the stories of those killed or seriously injured, those who had to live with it, and the public institutions - the road agencies, police, hospitals and courts - that, ultimately, coped ineffectively with the carnage. To do so, we carefully analyzed highway patrol data on thousands of crashes and reviewed full crash investigation reports and court files on scores of them. We tracked down survivors, victims' families and drivers. And we used their stories (backed by volumes of data) to show how dangerous walking in Orlando had become.
  • Short Yellows and the Red Light Fight

    Our first-of-its-kind investigation exposed cities, counties, and the state of Florida abusing red light camera technology to improperly increase tickets on unsuspecting drivers. The initial piece – one of more than 40 parts in the series – revealed how the state was systematically reducing yellow light intervals and generating millions of dollars in extra fines. The outrage it provoked, coupled with our ensuing reporting, prompted major reforms to Florida laws. This entry is a half-hour special highlighting our year-long investigation that exemplifies IRE ideals.
  • Fast Money

    The Baltimore Sun's Fast Money series exposed inaccuracies and systematic flaws in Baltimore's automated speed cameras. By compiling and analyzing a database of more than 1.6 million tickets issued over three years, and contacting drivers through social media, The Sun was able to show that automated speed cameras are often wrong and the process of issuing tickets unfair. In one telling example, reporters found a Mazda minivan issued a speed ticket while stopped at a red light. Since the story's publication, Baltimore City officials have announced plans to scrap the entire network of 83 cameras because of the deficiencies revealed by The Sun. And Maryland's governor and legislators have promised a "speed camera day" in Annapolis to consider reforms.
  • Escondido Police Under Fire

    Escondido, California, has a long history of discriminating against its large Latino population. For years the City Council had tried and failed to enact legislation that would make it difficult for Spanish-speaking immigrants, documented or otherwise, to take up residence there. But “Escondido Police Under Fire” uncovers how, in 2004, local legislators along with the Escondido Police Department found an ingenious way to rid the city of undocumented immigrants — and make a profit. In 2004, Congress gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds to encourage states to get drunk drivers off the road. Escondido some of these funds and began one of the most rigorous Driving Under the Influence checkpoint programs in the State of California. The taxpayer funds allowed Escondido police to set up sobriety checkpoints several times a month. The stated goal was to catch inebriated drivers and to raise public awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. But Escondido police quickly discovered that they could make money by impounding the vehicles of unlicensed drivers. At the time, in California, if someone was caught driving without a license, their vehicle could be seized and subjected to a 30-day impound. In Escondido, the fees to retrieve the impounded vehicle were exorbitant. Escondido police began systematically asking every driver who came through a sobriety checkpoint to show a driver’s license. Escondido Police, the investigation reveals, soon brokered an agreement with Immigration Customs Enforcement to run background checks on all unlicensed drivers at the sobriety checkpoints to ascertain whether they were legally in the country. If a perfectly sober undocumented immigrant drove up to a sobriety checkpoint and could not produce a driver’s license — even though the checkpoints were being funded to get drunk drivers off the road — the unlicensed driver’s car would be impounded, ICE would run a background check, and the driver would be deported. Quickly, these federally funded sobriety checkpoints had become de facto immigration checkpoints — at an enormous profit to the Escondido police. From 2008 to 2011 the city of Escondido and tow companies with city contracts pulled in $11 million in fees, citations and auctioned vehicles from checkpoints. And hundreds of drivers were subsequently deported.