Who Should Be Exempted From Background Checks for Volunteers?

background checks for volunteersAbsolutely nobody. Not a single person should be exempt from your background checks for volunteers.

“But, the volunteer is a police officer” or insert many other professionals and this is statement I hear frequently.  Sometimes it is a statement made weakly, that more closely resembles a question.  They are looking for validation for their weakly held position.  I still have time to educate.

However, all too often it is a bold statement.  A confirmation that they have adopted this policy and that is the end of the discussion.

Let me state confidently that there is no profession immune from criminals.  Yesterday, the Huffington Post ran an article:  Joshua Carrier, Former Colo. Springs Cop, Faces 189 Counts of Felony Child Sex Assault

Did you catch that number?  189 counts.  More than 22 young victims.  And the list will grow as the investigation continues.

Did you look at his photo?  Scary?  No way.  Very normal looking.  Don’t fool yourself and think you can screen these predators out with a look or intuition.

Did I mention he was a School Resource Officer, wrestling coach, coach for the Police Athletic League and Youth Advisor with the Explorer’s Scout Program.

People who harm children seek access to children.

Positions of power and authority are extremely attractive to people who are interested in abusing.  I know this first hand as a former detective.  I have investigated and arrested way too many police officers.

Research has shown that the 3 most attractive professions to an abuser are:

  1. Law Enforcement
  2. Military
  3. Clergy

Let me digress for a second and say I love police officers.  Literally.  My wife was an officer for 20 years.  My dad was an Indiana State Police Officer for 35 years.  My grandfather was a police officer.  My younger brother is a police officer.  One of my cousin’s is a police officer.  If history holds true, one of my kids will become a police officer.

However, when someone feels they are above the process this should be a red flag.  It could be a sense of entitlement or worse, it could be they have something to hide.

When we allow someone to bypass our policies we:

  • Expose our organization to risk of harm;
  • Expose our organization to potential legal claims of unfair treatment

So we should not allow a police officer, judge, doctor, lawyer or anybody else to bypass our background checks for volunteers policy.  Our response:  we treat everybody the same and cannot make exceptions to the policy.  Public safety professionals should respect this.

One of my good buddies called recently and said he just went through our background check process so he could consult with a school district.  Oh, I forgot to mention he is a retired FBI agent and former member of the FBI’s elite worldwide hostage negotiations team?

He had no problem with the background check.  Although he was a little miffed I was going to make a buck off of him.