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Bill would permit criminal checks of county workers


ANNAPOLIS -- The Carroll delegation unanimously agreed yesterday to introduce legislation that would allow the county government to do criminal background checks on certain employees and contractors.

Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. requested the legislation because he wants to ensure security at the courthouse, said Del. Richard C. Matthews, R-District 5A, the delegation chairman.

Judge Beck could not be reached for comment yesterday, and others involved would not say specifically why he asked for the bill.

Del. Richard N. Dixon, D-District 5A, said there was "an incident" recently but would not give more details.

"It was serious enough that I thought we should act," he said.

Maryland law prohibits an employer from obtaining criminal records of prospective employees.

The proposed legislation would allow Carroll to request criminal records from Maryland State Police for employees of the county commissioners, sheriff, state's attorney, Circuit Court and county attorney.

The bill also would allow checks on employees who do inspections, approve or deny permits or work with children.

In addition, the bill would allow the county to check the criminal records of anyone who has a contract to work in the specified areas. For example, Carroll officials would like to check the backgrounds of cleaning crew workers employed by contractors hired by the county, County Attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr. said.

Last year, the commissioners asked the delegation to introduce legislation to do criminal checks on any prospective county employees. Carroll legislators said the proposal was too broad and did not introduce it, Mr. Matthews said.

Mr. Dixon said the bill would have been "an invasion of people's personal rights."

The measure introduced yesterday will be sent to a committee for a hearing.

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