Statewide criminal background checks in Missouri may be getting easier than ever before. According to a recent Associated Press report, the Missouri State Highway Patrol recently launched a new website that will allow school districts throughout the state to quickly and convenientrun background checks.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, state criminal checks have previously been a problem for schools throughout Missouri. Through the old system, school districts had to send background check requests in to the State Highway Patrol via mail. This paper system was not only unreliable (what if a background check request got lost in the mail, or was simply misplaced after arriving at the Missouri State Highway Patrol?) but it also took forever. It wasn't uncommon for school to wait weeks for their employee background checks to clear, and one school district representative told the News-Leader that her school once waited two months to hear back.
Needless to say, two months is too long to wait for a background check to process. Not only do schools have to fill positions quickly to avoid disrupting student learning, but applicants also need to find out whether or not they've been hired. Very few people are going to wait around for two months to hear "yes" or "no." Letting teachers start work without background checks, meanwhile, puts students at risk and is arguably the worst course of action of all.
Luckily, with the new state criminal background check system developed by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, all of those problems and concerns should be things of the past. The new system revolves around the Missouri Automated Criminal History Site (or MACHS), which will allow school districts to run thorough state background checks on applicants in a matter of minutes. Districts are being trained on how to use the website this summer, and new hires for the 2015 / 2016 school year will likely all be screened using the database. Supposedly, this statewide database will also allow school districts to monitor current employees, and will send out alerts "if a current employee is arrested or charged with a crime."
So far, all of the discussion about MACHS involves school districts. But while the quick-search state criminal database will certainly help to expedite the employee background check process for educational institutions, it could also be beneficial for a much broader array of employers. Indeed, it's difficult to think of a type of business that wouldn't benefit from being able to quickly check a database for an applicant's criminal history, or to monitor existing employees for ongoing criminal activity.