Checking Up on the Background of Employees, Volunteers

Recent incidents of theft have certainly put a lot of businesses, organizations and individuals on edge.

The most recent case, which we first told you about Friday, involves the former Voices for Children employee, who police say admitted she had stolen money from the non-profit.

This isn't Connie Cadenhead's first run in with the law when it comes to theft charges. In 1989 and 1998, she was found guilty of a total of four misdemeanors for theft.

So how did we know that?

For Brazos County residents, there's a quick preliminary step, one that we at News 3 use all the time.

Brazos County's Judicial Records Search has listings of arrest records and court hearings dating back a number of years. Cadenhead's record shows up, with sentencing, hearings, events and orders.

Now this is free, but it's just Brazos County. For the all encompassing, but almost necessary checks, the Department of Public Safety is one place to start.

"You need to know exactly what the history of the individual is, and through the crime record division of the Department of Public Safety, you can now find that out," Trooper Eddie Carmon said.

Through the DPS website, you can sign up for the public Criminal Records Service. Legislatively authorized organizations can use a secure site. Arrests, prosecutions and dispositions for people arrested in Texas for Class B misdemeanors or higher can be listed on there.

But here's a caveat: according to their website DPS says a 2002 analysis of the system had only 60 percent of dispositions from local courts in their system.

"If you take the time and do a complete, full background investigation on an individual and find out what their criminal history is, I think you'll come out ahead in the long run," Carmon said.

Voices For Children say they used DPS background checks system, but that no red flags popped up for Cadenhead.

Her case isn't the only notable recent example of the necessity of background checks. You may recall Eva Perez, the maid in Bryan who was arrested and accused of stealing jewelry from a home. Had a background check been done, it would have shown she was wanted in Bexar County.

Links to Brazos County's Judicial Records Search and DPS's website are below.

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