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Thursday March 29, 2001

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Letters to the editor

Background checks necessary for safety

I am responding to a recent editorial column and letter to the editor concerning the use of background checks here at the UA. The concerns about confidentiality and appropriate use of information from background checks are valid and must be properly considered in the planning and implementation of such a program. However, the opinion that there is no demonstrated need or requirement for selected background checks is ill-informed.

It is correct that new hires are currently asked to self-disclose felony convictions when they apply for UA positions. However, there is no policy or procedure for actual verification to be done. It should be obvious that the only person who has any reason to lie about criminal history on an employment application is a criminal. If the UA is hiring individuals to handle cash, work with children or perform other tasks with loss exposure such as driving, then the need to perform a managed level of background investigation is, in my opinion, clearly demonstrated by our own loss history as well as the experience of most employers nationwide. The scope of this program, as currently envisioned, extends to criminal background checks for targeted job titles and responsibilities and motor-vehicle-record checks for drivers. Drug tests are already performed on UA drivers with commercial driver's licenses, as required by federal law. Random drug tests of all employees and credit checks are not being proposed, as was suggested in a recent letter to the editor.

Clearly there are important privacy and confidentiality issues that must be balanced against the university's need to perform due diligence in hiring practice. Human Resources and Risk Management and Safety are working with all interested parties to gather opinions and suggestions on how to best accomplish this goal.

Steve Holland

Risk Management and Safety director

Campus security filled with problems

I'd like to thank the Wildcat for its well-drafted opinions on campus security. Unfortunately, the problems with campus security that were addressed are only the tip of the iceberg.

It's bad enough that someone's car stereo, CDs or cell phone get removed from a car in a student parking lot, visitor lot or garage. It's even worse when a car is damaged by someone who can't back out of a space correctly and then takes off. The UAPD's commitment to security and safety sometimes falls short with the properties of the university's staff, faculty and students. But it will only be a matter of time before they realize just how costly these minor break-ins are.

What if a burglarized car belonged to a local foundation member? Guess what: UA just lost a $10,000 research grant. What if a burglarized car belonged to the parents of a prospective out-of-state student? Guess what: UA just lost a student and the $20,000 he would have brought with him each year. What if a burglarized car belonged to a government official surveying the mirror labs belonging to our optics department? Guess what: UA just lost-out on a $2 million government contract.

I work for Parking and Transportation Services in the smallest visitor lot on campus, just north of Babcock Inn. Yesterday afternoon, four college-aged adults decided to play catch in and around the parking lot. Since they were lousy catchers, I asked them to leave, lest they damage cars. When they didn't, I called UAPD. The dispatcher - whose name I don't remember and wouldn't reveal if I did - said there was little they could do to remove the students from the parking lot, which I thought was a lot of baloney. I told the dispatcher they were endangering the vehicles in the lot and it was only a matter of time before one of the students hit a car. The dispatcher told me he would do what he could. I find it ironic that he was of no help to me, since it was only a year ago that I interviewed, and was rejected, for a job position as a UAPD dispatcher.

The students eventually left, but a police car or (police) bicycle never came by. They are lucky that the only time they hit a car was with an errant ground ball that hit a tire, and not a window, mirror or headlight.

Usually, the UAPD is helpful to my requests, especially when someone backs into another car or scrapes a pole or if a transient is snooping around the lot looking in car windows. But these are all reactive events, never preventative measures needed to keep cars and other properties from being damaged.

Perhaps they don't have the funding. From what I see on a daily basis, they should.

Seth Peck

Computer science junior

UAPD unfairly targets youth

I am writing in response to Anthony Nelson's letter to the editor about how he thinks A.J. Montoy was not harassed by UAPD officers because he was Hispanic. I would agree that maybe Montoy was not harassed because he was Hispanic, but I am sure that he was at least harassed by the UAPD because he is young. Either way, that is a lawsuit.

This is the sad truth about the UAPD recently, and Mr. Nelson should know that, since he knows many of the officers at the UAPD.

My point is that police officers make mistakes, especially the ones at UAPD. Also, I would like to remind Mr. Nelson that everyone in this country is innocent until proven guilty, including A.J. Montoy. Even if Montoy is guilty of being a minor in possession of alcohol and having a fake ID, who cares? Oh no! What a criminal! Do you really think he is the first person on the UA campus to be guilty of either one of these minor crimes? Its not like the man killed someone or hurt anything. Give me a break!

Mike Jindrick,

Business sophomore