Basic background investigation is still the most
effective tool for an employer.
The simplest, quickest, and cheapest steps should be
Research may be needed if arrests are revealed by
your background checks.
Step one: Ask the applicant
This is free and simple, and surprisingly effective. If the
person tells you about an arrest for an offense that would be a bar to
employment, you can save yourself the time and effort or further inquiry. Most
people will truthfully answer questions on an application. How you phrase the
question, however, is important. We suggest something like this:
Have you ever received a ticket,
been charged with an offense, or been arrested for anything other than a minor
traffic violation? List and explain.
Step two: References and resumes
There is no substitute for
talking personally with previous employers, and doing your own checking of key
points on a resume or application. Do these fundamentals early in the
process. If you get poor references or find fictitious information in the
resume, you can spare further efforts and the time and cost of detailed
criminal history research.
Step three: Free online resources
Start your research by looking for free information. A few
minutes spent on the Internet could save you time and effort. A simple Google
search with the person's name and keywords such as the town where they most
recently lived would be a good starting point. Many states have online records
of inmates, parolees, and sex offenders. The state sex offender registry and
department of corrections for each state where you believe the person has lived
would be good starting points. Check these readily available free online
- LPD Arrest Warrants: http://lincoln.ne.gov/city/police/stats/warrant1.htm
A name search here will show any
active arrest warrants held by the Lincoln Police Department or the Lancaster
County Sheriff's Office. These are updated daily. Typically, there are about
8,000 arrest warrants active at any given time.
- County attorney's database: http://lincoln.ne.gov/aspx/cnty/crimcase/default.aspx
A search of this database will return records of criminal cases prosecuted by the Lancaster County Attorney.
- Nebraska sex offender registry: https://sor.nebraska.gov/
A search of this Nebraska State
Patrol registry will include sex offenders who were either
convicted or released from correctional control after Jan. 1, 1997.
National Sex Offender Registry: http://www.nsopr.gov/
This U.S. Department of Justice
site allows searches from all state sex offender registries. The laws of each
State vary concerning which offenders are subject to registration and what
information is released to the public
- Nebraska Inmate Locator: http://dcs-inmatesearch.ne.gov/Corrections/COR_input.html
A name search in this database
maintained by the Nebraska Department of Corrections will reveal whether an
individual has been an inmate at a State correctional facility at any time
since the late 1970's. If you know the person has resided in another state,
check to see if that state also maintains an online inmate locator.
- Federal Inmate Locator: http://www.bop.gov/iloc2/LocateInmate.jsp
A name search in this database
will reveal whether an individual has been incarcerated in a federal
correctional facility at any time since the late 1982.
Step four: LPD criminal history
Run a $10 Lincoln Police Department criminal history. This
is a listing of arrests by the Lincoln Police Department since 1980 and the
disposition of the case. It is available instantly online with a Visa or MasterCard
or in person and by mail at the Police Department's Records Unit. Since it is
only arrests by LPD, you can probably save the ten dollars if the subject is
not and has not been a Lincoln resident. Be sure to read the FAQs for more
Step five: State criminal history
Run a State Patrol Criminal History check, if you have any
reason to believe the person has resided in Nebraska during the past. Details
about this can be found on the State Patrol's website: https://statepatrol.nebraska.gov/criminalhistoryreports.aspx . Keep in
mind that these are only Nebraska arrests where the defendant was fingerprinted.
Step six: Other local records
Check with the local court system and/or law enforcement
agencies in the other places the person has lived. This can be a tedious
process, since it can often require several inquiries, and since records are
not always easily or quickly accessible.
Step seven: Follow-up inquiries
Sometimes you will need more information about the specific
circumstances of an arrest in order to make an informed decision. Get any
follow-up information from the appropriate sources for any arrests that concern
you, but that aren't necessarily a bar to employment. This may require seeking
public record court documents, or finding someone in the arresting agency that
is willing to talk to you about the details of the case. Be sure to ask the
applicant first. If he or she was not truthful about the circumstances of the case,
don't take the chance.