Brentwood volunteers, employees now subject to background checks
Volunteers who help with a dek hockey program, a Zumba class instructor, all Brentwood employees and even borough planning commission members will be subject to background checks under new regulations adopted by borough council.
“In this day and age, with child abuse cases on the rise, our insurance carrier pretty much mandated the borough adopt an abuse and molestation policy,” borough Manager George Zboyovsky said. “It's a good policy to have.”
Brentwood Council, in a unanimous vote on April 28, amended the borough's personnel policies and procedures manual to update the borough's sexual abuse rules for employees and all volunteers, board and committee members.
The policy came at the request of the underwriter for the borough's liability insurance, McKee Risk Management, Zboyovsky said. The borough has property and liability insurance from National Fire Insurance Co.
The policy is meant to protect children, by prohibiting borough employees from being alone with them, Zboyovsky said. A husband and wife are considered one adult under the policy, which also bans corporal punishment.
Unlike previous policies that addressed background checks only for borough employees, all volunteers now are subject to criminal background checks, according to the ordinance.
Police Chief Robert Butelli said his department is able to run background checks through the state police and the National Crime Information Center for borough employees and potential hires. The police department is “not permitted” to conduct this type of criminal background check on volunteers, Butelli said.
The only check borough police can do for volunteers would be running the names through the borough's own records and information system, Butelli said.
“Volunteers will have to provide us with their own criminal history and check,” he said.
Anyone who has been convicted of child abuse, sexual abuse of a minor, physical abuse, causing a child's death, neglecting a child, murder, manslaughter, felony assault, kidnapping, arson, prostitution or crimes relating to controlled substances can be disqualified from working or volunteering in the borough, under the newly adopted policy.
All employees, elected officials, board members and volunteers will be required to complete a form stating that they comply with the rules.
Councilman John Frombach said policies like this are becoming more common, especially in school districts.
“The insurance company just wants to make sure that we don't have people that are harassing kids and that we have people who understand what the rules are,” Frombach said.
Baldwin Borough Councilman Kevin Fischer recommended several months ago that Baldwin require all board and committee members to undergo background checks. He said he would like to make sure, for example, that a person has a clean background before putting him or her with children on a recreation board.
Baldwin Borough Manager John Barrett said the idea will be considered in the next several months.
“We need a consensus: what do we mean when we say background checks?” Barrett said.
Baldwin already does a screening before hiring employees, Barrett said. Some employees, such as the borough manager and police chief, even must undergo a credit checks before being hired.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.