Stories

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

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "police and fire" ...

  • Pension Crisis

    Jacksonville’s Police and Fire Pension Fund is in crisis. The fund has about 43 cents available for every dollar promised to its retired police officers and fire fighters. Now $2.88 billion, the multiplying city debt is threatening the city’s financial stability. Bond ratings have been downgraded. City projects have been scuttled. Bankruptcy is feared. The recent recession isn’t the only thing that crippled the fund. Deals done in secret, deals hidden for more than a decade and sweetheart deals that allowed a select few to skirt regulations and retire from public service jobs with hundreds of thousands of extra dollars they weren’t entitled to are also to blame.
  • A Huge Hurt for Taxpayers

    The length and cost of job-related injury leaves taken by city of Los Angeles employees are growing rapidly, the Los Angeles Times found, primarily because the employees take home more money when they’re out with claimed injuries than they do when they show up for work. Payments to injured police and firefighters, who get 100% of their salaries, tax-free, while out on leave, rose 30% from 2009 to 2013, The Times found. Fewer than 5% of the injuries were attributed to acts of violence, smoke inhalation or contact with fire, city data show. About 50% were blamed on “cumulative trauma,” ailments that afflict aging bodies regardless of profession: back strain, knee strain, high blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome. Cumulative trauma was also the leading cause of injury among the city’s civilian workers, who typically get 90% of their salaries, tax-free, while on leave.
  • Suburban Pension Peril

    Police and fire retirement plans in suburban Chicago are woefully underfunded by more than $3 billion, an investigation by the Better Government Association found. Not only is this bad news for pension plan members but it also puts taxpayers on the hook for potential bailouts. In a follow-up piece, we analyze the prospects for municipal bankruptcies brought on by the funding shortfalls.
  • 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.
  • Uniform Allowance Abuse

    For over a decade, the public's money was being used to purchase private clothing and other merchandise for the city's police officers and firefighters. Police and fire chiefs knew of the matter, and the spending involved a major uniform and supply company, and the safety force members who shopped there.
  • Aches and Claims

    The Herald-Leader found that Lexington police and firefighters retire on tax-free disability more than three times as often as Kentucky State Police officers. Many of these retirees then go on to new jobs, including ones similar to those that they were supposedly too disabled to perform. Others lead active lifestyles, including marathon running and training for war. Many retirees are some of Lexington's most notorious officers, retiring on disability before they can be fired or disciplined.
  • Paid not to work

    The series showed that Portland police and firefighters can continue earning a disability check, tax free--until retirement--even as they hold other lucrative and often physically demanding jobs, while claiming that they can't go back to work at their old jobs. As a result, there is an extraordinarily high rate of disability among Portland fire and police, with growing costs to taxpayers.
  • Hardly a Home; Crime, pests plague tenants; Many tenants want out; 'If nobody cares,' why bother, police wonder; Apartment woes are news to council members

    This four-part investigative story focuses on a group of apartment complexes in Colorado Springs owned by Terry Ragan. The complexes, which are primarily occupied by low-income families, were not only found to be extremely dangerous, but were also found to provide unacceptable living conditions to tenants. The article describes problems in the complexes such as lack of heat, water leaks, cockroach infestation, sewage backups, drug dealing, and violence with weapons, among others. Due to yearly police and fire code inspections and court services, Ragan's complexes end up costing taxpayers about $1 million each year.
  • Crony played a numbers game

    The Denver Post's review of Civil Services practices found that "one of a handful of people with criminal histories to administer Denver's police and firefighter exams collected his paychecks by using Social Security numbers that belonged to others."
  • Emergency calls crowded out: Interference from cell phone towers is putting the lives of police and firefighters at risk as public safety authorities find their radio transmissions blocked

    An investigation by the Oregonian reveals that cell phone towers interfere with the radio transmissions of police and firefighters.