A recent city audit conducted in Richmond, Virginia, has found that the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities has not been following proper procedures when performing background checks. According to Richmond city policy, all employees and volunteer working closely with children must submit to a background check. The audit spanned an 18-month period, and a report from the City Auditor found that three of 30 volunteers hired during that time period were convicted felons. With convictions as recent as 2009, some of the crimes included contributing to the delinquency of a minor, assault, and drug possession. The audit also found that 14 of the 30 hired volunteers did not even complete a background check.
Parents are shocked by the audit's findings and the lack of proper background checks. According to parent Audra Scott, “It is alarming. I definitely think that it’s important that the community knows who those people are, and that they’re working with them.” Scott added, “And again, not to say that those individuals can’t do great things within the community. But that certainly, I think that proper procedures need to be in place.” Norman Merrifield, Richmond Parks and Recreation Director, said “We found that we are working with thousands of volunteers, keeping in mind that we run a great park system as well as many recreation programs.” “Maybe one or two people have come on board as volunteers and it just simply was an oversight.”
The Audit also found that residents do not have th same access to either senior or kid recreation centers, depending on where you live in Richmond. “Recreation should not be defined in terms of facilities but in terms of services,” Merrifield said. “And we continue to look at the services on each side of town to determine whether or not that need is actually there.” Parent Shae Smith states, “They’re really contradicting themselves to say they need to be involved in some activities.” “But there’s really no activities for them to get involved in.” Merrifield, who has only been on the job for a year, has said the city is tightening its background check policy. However, the City Auditor said that the city administration has not agreed on six out of 15 suggested recommendations involving problems with the city’s recreation services.
As referenced in the recent article, Montana Dance School Had Convicted Sex Offender on Staff, it is easy for a convicted criminal to be working with children if you are not conducting regular and thorough background checks. By using the services of a company like backgroundchecks.com, you can be assured you are using the best screening techniques available. With access to countless criminal databases nationwide they provide several options with instant results. Their instant US Offender OneSEARCH includes sex offender information from 49 states (plus Washington D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico) with photos. Or try their Ongoing Criminal Monitoring tool, which allows you to automatically run a continuous background check against a name and date of birth, and they will notify you via email of any new information that may appear on the record. They will run the name for one year and remind you when it is time to renew the monitoring, and you can remove the name from being monitored at any time.
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