A Florida County Runs a Criminal Background Check on Every County Employee

By Michael Klazema on 1/30/2013

Every county employee in Leon County, Florida has gone through a criminal background check prior to employment, but a recent review of the background checks has revealed a high number of criminal offences in currently hired employees. About one in every six employees in Leon County has an arrest record or felony charge. This statistic is known because all of these employees had a background check done during the hiring process and were still hired by the county despite the records. One man, Curtis Walker, was charged in August of this year with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. He is currently out of jail on bond, but is still working for the county.

Over 700 employees of Leon County had their background checks reviewed, and around 5% of the employees have felony arrest records; another 17.5% have a record of various types of other criminal activity. Debbie Spitler, who owns her own employment agency, was brought in to consult on the background checks that were reviewed. She says that in her opinion and with her experience, it would be very difficult to place some of the current employees with a job because of their criminal records.

Background checks have been conducted by the county since 2003, and the county has maintained that they follow all federal laws when they have employees undergo background checks. The county also says that they look at the nature of the crime and how many years have passed since the crime was committed. This seems like a reasonable way to handle criminal records that show up on background checks, but what about cases like Curtis Walker who have very current criminal records and are still employed by the county? Background checks do not always mean that a company or agency will use the information to choose their employees wisely. Even if Leon County is complying with federal law and is requiring their applicants to undergo comprehensive criminal background checks, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are using the information on the background checks to weed out unfit employees. One the other hand, perhaps they are giving people a much needed second chance.

It seems a little unfair however, that people with multiple arrest or even felony records can find a good job while people like Lashonda Owens, a registered nurse with a squeaky clean record, are unable to find a job anywhere. Owens says that she doesn’t understand why no one wants to hire her even though she is licensed and has a clean background. She believes that people deserve a second chance, but she also needs a job so that she can support herself. One of the most common criminal charges that showed up in the county employee’s background checks was fraud. One county employee has faced over 57 counts of check fraud since 1990, and has a felony charge that is as recent as 2007. This type of criminal activity is some of the mildest that can be found in Leon County employees. It is shocking to those who conducted the review, and many would like to see a change in the hiring process so that the county actually takes into consideration the serious offences of their employees.

High crime rates and the rising demand for security make reliable companies like a precious commodity for small and large businesses alike. Their services, such as US OneSearch, use a nationwide criminal database to search for comprehensive criminal records like arrest records, incarceration records, and it searches through sex offender registries as well. The search uses information from 49 different states as well as Washington DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico. A related search, US AliasSearch, uses the same database, but also searches for known aliases as well as maiden names. This search requires additional information including a SSN and a date of birth.

About - - a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and cofounder of the Expungement Clearinghouse - 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., is home to one of the largest online criminal conviction databases in the industry. For more information about backgroundchecks’ offerings, please visit



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