Pembroke Pines Plans New Background Check Policies for Those Who Work with Kids or Seniors

By Michael Klazema on 10/30/2015
The city of Pembroke Pines Florida is taking "proactive" steps to keep its vulnerable populations. According to a report from the Sun-Sentinel, Pembroke's City Commission recently heard the first reading of a resolution that would implement new background checks for youth sports coaches and other individuals who work with kids or seniors on a regular basis. The resolution would apply to "city-operated or city-supervised programs."

Judging by the reception for the resolution, the City Commission of Pembroke Pines likes the idea of implementing new protections for kids or elderly adults. The commissioners approved the measure unanimously after hearing the first reading. The new requirements could feasibly be implemented as soon as January 2016.

The resolution would likely have the biggest impact on youth sports leagues run through the city. Currently, those programs are city sponsored, but the city actually doesn't have much of a direct role in the background checks for coaches, volunteers, or referees. Instead, the leagues are run by the local Optimist Club, which is also responsible for running and interpreting the background checks. The new resolution would evidently give the city government a greater role in the background checks, as well as change the types of checks being run.

At the moment, those looking to coach or volunteer with local Pembroke Pines sports leagues are required to submit to background checks that include state criminal history checks and employment history searches. The state sex offender registry is also checked. The City Commission wants to add a fingerprint background check through the FBI criminal database, in addition to the current Florida Department of Law Enforcement checks. The same checks will apply to any other individuals who volunteer to work with kids or vulnerable adults through city programs.

To make the checks quicker and more convenient for locals, the Pembroke Pines City Commission is thinking about setting up a fingerprint scanning machine at City Hall. The fingerprint information could then be forwarded directly to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, for both state and FBI checks. Ideally, under such an arrangement, the wait time for background check findings would only be about three days. In other words, coaches or volunteers wouldn't be left out in the cold waiting for their background checks to clear.

The policy itself is a smart one, particularly the more sweeping nature of it. Many cities across the United States are starting to implement more detailed background checks for youth sports. However, to expand that policy to include any and all programs where adults work with vulnerable individuals is a strong choice that will hopefully help to protect oft-abused or exploited parties.

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