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Sun, March 24

County using company to expedite background checks

A Colorado company is checking backgrounds of prospective Mohave County employees because law enforcement takes months to do the job, the county's personnel director said.

Human Resources Director Geoff Riches said his office is using Automatic Data Processing of Fort Collins, Colo., because ADP can get the results from background checks in three to four days.

Riches said it has taken as long as three to four months to get results from the FBI and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Riches said he thinks it takes so long to get results from fingerprints because of the volume of requests handled by the FBI and DPS.

The county has required fingerprints of new employees since the late 1990s.

FBI and DPS officials could not be reached for comment.

With results arriving so quickly from ADP, Riches said department heads and managers may decide not to hire someone because of information the job seeker did not disclose.

Someone would not be hired "if a driving record is totally unacceptable or that person has been convicted of something that directly relates to their job," Riches said.

ADP charges $28 per background check, a dollar less than what human resources charged for fingerprinting new employees, Riches said.

He said the county deducted the $29 from the first paychecks of the new employees and will deduct the $28 unless the county does not hire the job candidate.

He added the county will absorb the $28 charges for job candidates who are not hired based on the ADP background check.

ADP officials could not be reached for comment.

Before using ADP, county officials hired employees pending the results of the fingerprinting conducted by human resources staff but reserved the right to fire the employees if the results disclosed damaging information, Riches said.

He said he knows of three or four employees losing their jobs during the past several months after the fingerprinting investigations determined they did not disclose convictions.

He said county offices under human resources jurisdiction (excluding Superior Court) hire 16 to 20 employees per month.

Job applications ask prospective employees whether they have been convicted of any crimes, including traffic violations, and state that nondisclosure could be grounds for firing.

"A problem we are having with a number of applicants is they are not fully listing all the convictions and violations of the law," Riches said.

He said that under the previous system, a committee would meet after receiving results from a number of fingerprinting checks.

The committee weighed three factors: how long ago a conviction occurred, the nature of the conviction and whether the employee disclosed the conviction on the application.

Riches said about 950 employees fall under human resources' jurisdiction including justice courts, which will continue to fingerprint new employees.

Lower-court Administrator Paul Thomas said, "I think we run some of our own background checks, and that is the way personnel set it up."

Prospective employees under the jurisdiction of Superior Court undergo fingerprinting and background checks through the National Crime Information Center, court officials said.

About 190 employees fall under the jurisdiction of Superior Court, Human Resources Director Linda Yarbrough said.

Court Security Coordinator Bob Lawless, who fingerprints the employees, said he is unaware of any employee being dismissed for nondisclosure during the more than three years he has been on the job.

He said the NCIC database contains criminal histories stored on the computer system.

NCIC background checks are available within seconds, said Elaine Grissom, training officer for adult and juvenile probation.

The Mohave County Sheriff's Office subjects prospective employees to similar criminal background checks, spokesman Jarrod Lyman said.

The sheriff's office has about 210 employees, including sworn officers.

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