Public Safety Employers Shouldn’t “Ban the Box”

On March 12, 2020, MACo Policy Associate Drew Jabin submitted testifimony to the House Judiciary Committee to oppose SB 1008 (CF HB 586) – Public Safety – Criminal History Records Check – Fire Departments, Rescue Squads, and Ambulance ServicesMACo staff and Carroll County Commission President Steve Wantz also testified earlier this session to oppose the cross-filed House Bill 586.

This bill prohibits a fire department, rescue squad, or an ambulance service from requiring an applicant to disclose their criminal record or criminal accusations before the first in-person interview. The legislation would also place a burden on public safety services to implement peer review committees to consider potential hires, when personnel should be providing care and service to the community they serve.

From the MACo Testimony:

Public safety employees – routinely called upon to enter people’s property, and to engage with people at their most vulnerable – should be exempt from any type of “ban the box” legislation. Fire departments, rescue squads, and ambulance services are properly held to a higher standard by the public, and such legislation could undermine a community’s confidence in these first responders. Prior “ban the box” legislation already weighed this question, and wisely left these employees beyond its scope.

Another concern raised by the Peer Review Committee established in SB 1008 is confidentiality of personnel records and information. This burdensome, and potentially insecure, requirement would place inappropriate risk on members of the Committee and could also pose grave liability risks for the employer. The legislation does not detail how the Committee protocol would work and does not detail record-keeping procedures or policy.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.