City in Texas Calls for Solicitor Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 10/28/2014

Flash background checks are becoming more and more popular around the country, mostly for quickly screening the criminal histories of visitors at schools. Yet, door to door solicitors remain mostly free to run around without any such checks to verify who they are and whether or not they pose a threat. After all, No Soliciting signs can only do so much. And while many businesses now have locked doors accessible only through employee key cards or front desk receptionists, many others still remain open to anyone trying to sell goods or services.

In the city of Conroe, Texas, all of this has become a cause for concern. The city's police chief recently confirmed that there are convicted felons in town who are going from door to door and soliciting goods and services.

As a result, the city is considering several potential solutions. Flash background checks aren't on the way, unfortunately, as they cannot be implemented for an entire town as they would be for a school district. But the Mayor of Conroe suggested that the city simply charge more for soliciting permits, in order to increase the barrier to entry, and the City Council wants to run background checks as a step for approving applicants for those permits.

The background check plan is only in the rudimentary discussion phase right now, but would likely involve a third-party firm that would run criminal history and sex offender registry checks on those seeking soliciting permits. Such a policy would help to keep unsavory people from going door to door between houses and homes in Conroe, which would in turn protect citizens from unsafe individuals.

In addition to the background checks, the City Council wants to amend the ordinance that sets soliciting hours. Currently, solicitors are allowed to go door to door at any time between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Some council members believe that allowing soliciting time to go so late increases the risks.

Frankly, changes in both areas would be appropriate. Background checks are absolutely necessary for solicitors. These people frequently stroll into businesses uninvited, or, if there is a No Solicitation sign, when they have specifically been told to stay away, and use aggressive and persistent tactics to try and make their sales. It makes sense that citizens in Conroe and throughout the country as a whole feel uneasy in the presence of these people. The knowledge that background checks had been run and that solicitors don't have criminal or sex offender history would help to assuage some of that fear.

As for the hours, no solicitor should be still out going door to door at 8 or 9:00. Most businesses close their doors at five or six, and homeowners getting a knock on the door at that hour almost automatically assume a threat or some form of bad news. Soliciting hours should end with the workday, or at very least, with daylight, to maximize safety and to save people from unwanted evening disturbances.


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