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Hundreds of Baltimore County employees have skipped background checks

Baltimore County Inspector General Kelly Madigan
Isaac Smay
Baltimore County Inspector General Kelly Madigan. Credit: Baltimore County

Nearly 1,200 people who work for Baltimore County have never had a criminal background check.

It’s part of a report from Inspector General Kelly Madigan that raises questions over how thorough the county is at investigating both prospective employees and those currently on the job.

Madigan said those employees who have not had background checks were hired before 2008, when it was not a requirement. They make up 34% of general county employees. They are the part of the county workforce not involved in public safety. Police officers, firefighters and others have always been subject to thorough background checks.

Also, Madigan said those general employees who are hired now do get fingerprinted, but that only confirms convictions, not other things like recent arrests and outstanding warrants.

Madigan said the county does not require current employees to report if they get arrested.

“Other jurisdictions have policies to self-report an arrest, and they also have a penalty that if you fail to self-report and someone’s aware of the arrest or the conviction, that can be a basis for termination,” Madigan said.

The combination of employees with no background checks and the no self-reporting arrest policy “were risk factors to the county,” said Madigan.

In a written response to Inspector General Madigan, County Administrative Officer Stacy Rodgers agreed that for years the county did not follow best practices in conducting criminal background checks. Rodgers said they are working to fix that.

Rodgers wrote in her response that the county is “working diligently to implement best practice background check protocols for county government departments for both promotional candidates and newly hired employees.”

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2