Iowa Rejects Mandatory Background Checks for Ice Cream Truck Drivers

By Michael Klazema on 5/7/2013

While many adults remember the days when it was safe for kids to roam neighborhood streets unsupervised all summer long, today’s crop of youngsters often do not have that luxury. Numerous high-profile cases relating to child abductions and child abuse have made parents and lawmakers more likely to mistrust strangers and limit their opportunities to interact with children.

One such case occurred in Iowa in the summer of 2012. Two young children, who happened to be cousins, were abducted while out riding their bikes. Their bodies were found, but the case has not been solved.

This case was on some Iowa lawmaker’s minds recently as they sought to introduce new legislation to protect children from predators. In a bid to reduce the likelihood of an offender interacting with minors, a group of Iowa Republicans attempted to mandate background checks for ice cream truck drivers in their state.

Their reasoning for the proposed mandate was that ice cream truck drivers are like “pied pipers.” The familiar tune draws kids out to the ice cream truck, where they naturally must interact with the driver in order to buy their treats. Some parents and lawmakers fear this interaction could potentially provide a predator with an opportunity to choose his next victim.

As evidence, Iowa Senator Tim Kapucian cited an incident that he said took place in Florida recently, in which an ice cream truck driver allegedly abducted and molested a child.

By requiring a background check for all ice cream drivers, the state of Iowa could screen out predators and offenders before they had a chance to interact with minors as part of their job. Legislators no doubt envisioned that, if the law passed, employers would use a tool similar to US Offender OneSEARCH. This product, which is offered by, is a thorough Offender Registry search that combs through records from every state, plus Washington DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Democrats in the Iowa state legislature determined that the proposed background check measure was “flawed” and therefore did not pass it.

Of course, just because background checks are not required by law does not mean that employers should not carry them out. Performing a thorough background check on any individual that will have contact with minors as part of their job is always wise. Not only does screening out offenders with background checks protect kids, it also protects employers and companies from the backlash associated with crimes against children. No company wants their name associated with such an incident, as it can hurt their brand tremendously.

In the case of ice cream truck drivers, employers are probably already doing at least one type of background check, namely a Motor Vehicle Record Search. This type of background check is vital for any employee who will be driving as part of their job. It returns any instances of traffic violations, accidents, or driving while intoxicated.

In the end, companies should not rely on legislators to tell them how to protect their employees and customers from offenders. Instead, they should use every background check tool legally available to them to get an accurate picture of exactly who they’re hiring.


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