Jeff King was a highly decorated police officer, having received the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department’s Medal of Honor. Jeff was also a violent offender who was locking his pregnant wife in a closet, beating her in the belly, sodomizing her and routinely shoving his pistol in her mouth. How do I know? I graduated from the police academy with Jeff and was also the violent crime detective that built a case to send him to prison. In the end a slow moving criminal justice system gave Jeff the final word as he killed himself while attempting to kill his estranged wife.
What does this story have to do with background screening? We are asked hundreds of times each year by our clients if they should allow a law enforcement officer to volunteer without obtaining a new criminal background check report. I can hear it in their voice, “surely if they are a police officer then everything is fine.”
Keep in mind I come from a family with more than 130 years of combined law enforcement experience so I am a huge fan of good police officers. I also understand that policing is not immune to the problems that plague the rest of society.
So now you have an applicant in front of you who wants to bypass your screening program. Why? Is it because they feel like they are above the process? Or is it because they have something to hide?
Their justification will be because they have passed many background checks:
- Through their current employer
- To obtain a gun permit
- For government clearance on a project
- To volunteer with an organization
So what is the harm in accepting the prior criminal background check report:
- Can you see it & review it?
- Not if it was conducted by law enforcement
- Not if done as an application for a gun permit
- How old is the report?
- How do you know they “passed”?
- Could other things have happened since report was conducted?
- Do you know what you are looking at if you see the report?
- How far back does the report search? Normal industry standards is 7 years
- Did they search alias or AKA names?
Unless we are familiar with the background screening process of the organization that compiled the report then we run the risk of missing something. Additionally, under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act any report older than 30 days is considered stale or out of date.
Finally, the biggest problem I see with making exceptions is that you are setting precedence. So you may find yourself with a long line of volunteers asking to be grandfathered in with a dated background check run by another organization? Exceptions to policy could be a recipe for legal problems.
If you need a written policy on your background screening program, contact us today for a free consultation.
So how would you handle a request from an applicant to bypass your screening program? Please comment below.