Wisconsin Dells Proposes Background Checks for All City Volunteers

By Michael Klazema on 8/20/2014

The city of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin seems to be truly dedicated to adopting background checks across the board. Brian Landers, the city's Mayor, reportedly received a request from the city's insurance company asking for background checks for all volunteers who drive vehicles for the city. Landers and other Wisconsin Dells officials discussed the request at length, eventually deciding to require background checks not just for driving volunteers, but for all volunteers for the city government.

Such a policy would understandably add a slew of new background check policies to the city's books, including ones that are fairly common (background checks for parks and recreation volunteers, such as coaches working with youth sports) and others that are not so common. Included in the latter group are the volunteers who help run local public library branches.

According to a recent report from the Wisconsin Dells Events, a local news publication, library volunteers aren't exactly happy about the newly proposed city policy. In fact, Cathy Brock, who serves as local Library Direct for Wisconsin Dells, said that she had been contacted by numerous volunteers who said they would stop working with the local library system if background checks became a requirement.

In most cases, though, Brock said that the reason behind the complaints was that volunteers didn't want to disclose their Social Security number and risk it falling into the wrong hands. Since the background checks that the Wisconsin Dells government is looking at would be name and birthday-based checks, the protests from library volunteers could actually being a non-issue.

The checks the city is considering would be basic criminal history checks, though Mayor Landers hasn't said whether the criminal checks would be run on a county, state, or nationwide level. Landers did say, though, that there would be several different tiers of background checks, with more in-depth screen processes likely being required for youth sports coaches and other volunteers who work closely with children.

Since Wisconsin Dells is a fairly small town, with a fairly small government, Landers said that the city could pay for every public volunteer to have a background check, and still not spend more than about $1,000. In the mayor's eyes, that's a cheap price for finding out about past volunteer offenses that could potentially turn into "black eyes" for the city.


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