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Dallas County Considering Background Checks on Some Volunteers

By Michael Klazema on 3/13/2012

In recent months, two people with weapons charges against them, one with a felony forgery count and another who was convicted of running a identity theft ring were all volunteers for the Dallas county homeland security office and no one knew about their backgrounds because Dallas county does not run background checks on their volunteers. This lack of screening allowed convicted felons to work in areas of high sensitivity within county offices. What makes this even more troubling is that all of these volunteers were working as volunteer firefighters and had been serving since last fall.

County commissioners have been discussing this issue and are expected to vote on two background check policy changes within the coming days and weeks, one of them will be to perform background checks on county volunteers like those mentioned above. Though there are currently state laws that require background checks for those working in the county juvenile department, other departments are not yet required to background check their volunteers. If county commissioners have anything to say about it, this will likely change soon.

One thing that may stand in the way of these background checks is cost. It is unknown at this time how many volunteers currently work for the county, but it is estimated that the departments of juvenile and health and human services have about 1500 between the two of them. This number doesn’t even take into consideration the other county departments that employ volunteers. With an average cost of about $30 per background check, the county could have problems paying for them. Another problem that could arise is that county officials feel that the results of these background checks would force many volunteers to be terminated from their positions which could affect the day to day business of county offices.

On the flip side of all of this, some county officials offered that even if the background checks came back with extensive criminal backgrounds, these people should still be able to serve as volunteers. Most, however, do not agree with this stance. For the county of Dallas, hiring a third party processor like backgroundchecks.com, would be an efficient way to process these checks quickly and apply consistent adjudication standards in order to assure the safety of the county offices and the public visiting them.

About backgroundchecks.com -

backgroundchecks.com - a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) - serves thousands of customers nationwide, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies by providing comprehensive screening services.  Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with an Eastern Operations Center in Chapin, S.C., backgroundchecks.com is home to one of the largest online criminal conviction databases in the industry. For more information about backgroundchecks’ offerings, please visit www.backgroundchecks.com.

For more information about our authors click here.

Source: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/dallas/headlines/20120304-dallas-county-explores-expanding-background-checks-to-certain-volunteers.ece


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