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Required background checks grow

John Seelmeyer

The number of criminal background checks undertaken by the Nevada Department of Public Safety rose sharply in recent months, but the increase is rooted in a change in gaming law rather than worries about homeland security.

In October, the department was requested to undertake 11,666 background checks.

That’s nearly double the 6,525 undertaken just 12 months earlier.

Driving the increase is a new state law requiring fingerprint cards and full background checks for gaming employees.

“That’s what has exploded on us,” says Jeffrey Artz, program manager of the state’s fingerprint section.

With the legislative requirement for criminal background checks on gaming employees, casino workers joined a long list of workers who are required to undertake background checks.

In Nevada, the list ranges from insurance agents and practitioners of Chinese medicine to cab drivers, applicants for the state bar and school teachers.

The state Department of Public Safety also conducts criminal background checks on volunteers who work with children as Nevada has fully adopted the requirements of a federal child-protection act.

Whether the applicant is a volunteer working at a church school or a private investigator applying for a license, the process is the same: A set of fingerprints is taken by a local law enforcement agency, then checked by state law enforcement officials as well as the FBI to determine if the applicant has any criminal history.

For that, the applicant or the employer pays $45 $21 to the state, $24 to the FBI along with whatever fees are levied by the local agencies that collect the fingerprints.

About 10 percent of the applicants, Artz said last week, are found to have a criminal history.

But many of those previous violations are misdemeanors that don’t disqualify them from employment.

The next bump in business at the fingerprint section will be a direct result of terrorism worries.

Starting in December, truck drivers licensed to haul hazardous materials will undergo background screenings.

That’s going to add about 500 files a month to the Records and

Identification Bureau workload, said its chief, Daryl Riersgard.