Loophole makes it difficult to check employee's criminal history
They are at our jobs where we shop and they install our alarms, but could some of the people we trust to help keep us safe be ex-cons? What if we told you the person coming to install your new security alarm served time for burglary?
Some companies are no longer allowed to check a worker's criminal history, or at least not to the degree they were before. While it is unclear if any former criminals are working in these positions, the door appears to be wide open for them to do so.
"As a former police officer I worry we'll have people sneak into new professions where they don't belong," says Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge).
FOX 2 has learned of a loophole so big, crafty crooks could drive a truck through it.
A federal audit has forced LARA, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, to stop conducting required fingerprinting to screen would-be employees of private investigation companies, security companies and alarm installation contractors.
"They said they were acting illegally," Jones says. "They're not allowed to send in fingerprints and get background checks. In fact, if the state police were to send them in they're not allowed to share that information with an employer."
Jones is equally concerned about the alternative. LARA now suggests companies to use ICHAT, a Michigan State Police database to conduct background checks on applicants. But there's one problem - it does not include criminal history records from other states. So, if someone was convicted of burglary in Ohio or Indiana and applied for a job installing security alarms in your neighborhood, they could fly under the radar.
"I'm worried not only could a guy be a burglar, could he be a pedophile, could he be some sort of rapist?" Jones questions. "Somebody that we don't want doing private investigations."
"That one loophole provides too many opportunities for criminals," says Southfield resident Bruce Williams. "It's enough to have to double-check on contractors to know if they're going to do the proper work. And secondly to have concerns about criminal records and so forth, that makes it a possible double jeopardy."
LARA says it can no longer perform fingerprint reviews because the individuals will not be employed by or licensed by the department.
Companies were required to send LARA documentation on new employees to comply with state law. Now it will take more effort to fully screen employees to make sure potentially dangerous ones don't slip through the gaping cracks.
The question is if companies will go the extra mile to screen employees.
"I think some will," Williams says. "But then you always got those that have profit as the number one driving motive for anything. If they can cut corners, they're going to do it."
"I would hope the employer would be so nervous about hiring somebody with a criminal background that they would check out of state," says Jones. Jones wants the feds to do something to close this loophole.
FOX 2 reached out to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan). Her office released a statement that said:
"It's critical that all employees who install security systems are properly verified. We need to review federal law to ensure the appropriate protocol is in place to protect our family’s homes and businesses."