Federal Officials Want More Background Check Cooperation from Local Police Department

By Michael Klazema on 2/17/2014

Aaron Alexis, the man who killed himself and 12 other people in a Navy Yard shooting last fall, has hardly left the headlines of the background check industry since. First, USIS, the firm that vetted Alexis, was accused and sued for allegedly faking 665,000 background checks over a four year period. Now, government officials are suggesting that Alexis never would have been given federal security clearance and therefore denied to his victims, if local police departments were more willing to cooperate with federal investigators. In fact, those suggestions regarding Alexis' background check could eventually lead to government legislation that would force local police departments to fully cooperate and participate in federal background check procedures.

In fact, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is currently having talks that could drive numerous changes in how the federal government runs security clearance background checks. On one hand, the committee wants routine background reviews to either renew or revoke security clearance status. Alexis, for instance, was granted security clearance five years before his murderous rampage. Reports indicate that no reviews or repeat background checks were required of him in that time, a major oversight for the government to be making at such a high level. helps numerous companies institute regular repeat background checks of their employers, using its access to over 450 million criminal records, as well as sex offender registries, terrorist watch lists, and other screening sources, to help keep workplaces safe across America. If small and mid-sized businesses already have repeat background check policies, it seems as if the government could certainly benefit from having them for its emp;oyees that require security clearances.

In addition to requiring security clearance reviews, the House Oversight Committee wants to formulate some sort of strategy or system that would make it easier for federal background investigators to gain access to local police department records. The committee believes that more cooperation from local departments would have helped federal investigators to learn a bit more about Aaron Alexis and perhaps know to keep an eye on him, if not reject his application for security clearance.

While Alexis did not have any criminal convictions on his record, he did have a history of misconduct in the Navy, as well as years of apparent psychological instability. In 2004, Alexis was arrested in Seattle for shooting out the tires of a car. The House Oversight Committee believes the government was not able to formulate a full picture of Alexis' past because the Seattle police department would not cooperate with the investigation.

Today, Seattle seems to have changed its tune. The city's police department is now cooperating fully with federal investigators in a way they weren't back in 2008 when Alexis' background check was performed. However, the House Oversight Committee has stated that there are still more than 450 police departments and jurisdictions nationwide that continue to present a bureaucratic challenge to federal background investigators looking for answers about security clearance candidates. Included on the committee's list of uncooperative departments were the police forces of New York City and Los Angeles. Since both are huge jurisdictions, their failure to cooperate could result in a lot of missed information on security clearance background checks. The committee doesn't exactly know how it wants to approach the act of enforcing these and other local police departments to cooperate with the government, but a proposal involving the withholding of federal funds could be on the table.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • March 22 Countrywide, states and local municipalities have committed to ban the box legislation, seeking to equalize opportunities in the job market for those with criminal histories.
  • March 22

    Thinking about becoming a firefighter? Here are some of the background check requirements you might face.

  • March 20

    Four Department of Commerce employees are out after their background checks resulted in security clearance denials. All four had worked high-ranking positions for months despite incomplete background checks.

  • March 15 As more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis, they contend with the emergence of new industries surrounding marijuana cultivation and production. 
  • March 14 In most cases, it is easy to determine where an issue might show up on a pre-employment background check. Citations for traffic violations or reckless driving charges will appear on a motor vehicle record check. Verdicts in a civil court case will show on a civil court background check. And criminal convictions—from petty theft to violent felonies—show up on criminal background checks.
  • March 13 How many years back do employment background checks go? This question can have multiple different answers depending on the situation.
  • March 13 A new bill in Florida would require landlords of apartment complexes to present tenants with verifications of employee background checks to give them peace of mind the people working in and around their homes are trustworthy.
  • March 08 Police officers working with the University of Texas at Arlington recently arrested a man who had avoided police capture on a warrant out of Oregon for nearly two decades. The man, whose real name is Daniel Charles Ray Hanson, spent those 17 years using a variety of fake names and identification documents to move around the country, often engaging with educational institutions under false pretenses. Police say Hanson regularly went by at least three different aliases. He sports a rap sheet that stretches back to an arson conviction in 1995. 
  • March 07

    The Future of EEOC Guidance in Texas Is Up in the Air

    The EEOC issued guidance in 2012 warning employers about the dangers of enforcing categorical policies to bar candidates with criminal histories. That guidance is not enforceable in Texas thanks to a recent court ruling.

  • March 05 Vermont is the latest state to restrict employers’ access to and use of social media accounts of employees and applicants.