Op-Ed: Access to National Background Check System Needed

Problems with local records searches, delays in accessing FBI database create challenge for private security industry

Significant delays in getting responses to criminal history record requests are unfair to employers and applicants, and present potential security risks. To address this problem, private sector employers should be able to screen job applicants against the FBI's criminal history records, with the states serving as the employers' primary access point for criminal background checks only if they can meet the Attorney General standard. If a state cannot provide timely background check results that incorporate both state and FBI data, employers should be able to make direct requests to the FBI for criminal history records utilizing digitized fingerprints.

A national background screening protocol will elevate the security officer sector and revolutionize the industry. Our government needs to work with the private security sector and place a high priority on establishing a clearinghouse where we can electronically submit applicant fingerprints and review the background of applicants across the country, immediately uncovering criminal records and other liabilities that may exist. By implementing these recommendations for the private security industry -- specifically by insuring employers' timely access to FBI criminal records while preserving employee rights -- we will make our nation safer and ensure that the hard-working men and women in the physical security sector can benefit from the increased professionalism and standardization that is vital to our sector.

About the author: Bill Whitmore is President & CEO of AlliedBarton Security Services, www.alliedbarton.com, a leading provider of highly trained security personnel to many industries including commercial real estate, higher education, healthcare, residential communities, chemical/petrochemical, government, manufacturing and distribution, financial institutions, and shopping centers.