Ohio looking to improve background checks
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted has announced that InnovateOhio, in partnership with the Ohio Departments of Public Safety (DPS) and Administrative Services (DAS), has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to support the fix of the state’s background check system. The current, fragmented way that Ohio’s cities and counties feed data into the state and federal databases allows many people, who should fail a background check due to their criminal history, to pass due to incomplete data in the system.
Background checking laws are different for every state and country. For example, civil servants in the UK legally have to find a Great Service that will do a BPSS clearance check. Data protection and privacy laws in various countries restrict the amount of access basic for-profit companies have but most of them will do a background check to find out as much as possible. Countries like Australia already have very thorough systems like NSW Police Check NCC for both individuals and businesses, so it is possible that the state of Ohio will be able to find a solution to their checking system.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called for a technology solution to the background check system’s flaws in the wake of the August 4, 2019 shooting in Dayton, Ohio’s Oregon District. During the announcement, law enforcement officials from across the state, alongside gun shop owners themselves, advocated for a more accuratebackground check system, and the Governor tasked InnovateOhio to take the lead on developing that solution.
“The background check system is supposed to track a criminal’s history, but we know that many times, it fails to do its job and gives a clean report on known criminals and dangerous people,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “This puts the public at risk, it puts law enforcement at risk, and is a complete miscarriage of justice.”
The RFP released today seeks to establish a comprehensive eWarrant and eProtection Order system as part of STRONG Ohio with the goal of implementing a warrant system for law enforcement, judges, and clerks that will meet Governor DeWine’s three requirements that the system be “free to local governments, easy to use, and mandatory.”
Earlier this year, Governor DeWine created the Ohio Governor’s Warrant Task Force. That group determined that Ohio lacks a uniform, statewide warrant tracking system after studying how Ohio’s 1,361 entities utilize LEADS, the system that ultimately feeds data into the federal government’s criminal background database known as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
The task force also found that of the 217,052 warrants in LEADS, only 18,117 were entered into NCIC. Additionally, because law enforcement agencies are not required to enter warrants into LEADS, the task force was unable to even determine the number of outstanding warrants in Ohio. The task force believed there could “easily be in excess of 500,000” open warrants statewide.
“The release of the RFP is a huge milestone for Ohio to improve the sharing of valuable criminal justice information and reduce the likelihood of guns falling into the hands of people who are illegally prohibited from having them,” said DPS Director Tom Stickrath.
An improved warrant and protection order system would help law enforcement determine in real time if an offender is wanted in another county for a violent offense. For Ohio’s gun shop owners, a streamlined warrant and protection order system would improve the ability to see all warrants and protection orders in a background check in real time.
“DAS is pleased to support this important effort to better protect all Ohioans. Under Lt. Governor Husted’s leadership, we will continue to collaborate with the InnovateOhio and DPS teams to support the selection and implementation of the best solution,” said Director of DAS, Matthew Damschroder.