CARMEL, N.Y. - Anyone who wants to work for the town of Carmel will now have to be fingerprinted and submit to a background check.
The requirement was enacted last month by the Town Board more than a year after it was originally proposed by Deputy Supervisor Frank Lombardi.
Lombardi said the new law was simply a way of keeping the community safe—especially the children.
“About a year ago, I was watching a TV show about employees of private companies who were accused of child endangerment and they turned out to be predators,” he said. “They hadn’t done a background check. So we decided to make sure the public—especially the children—is protected.”
Existing town employees are exempt from the new law, but new applicants will have to submit fingerprints, which are taken electronically and then sent to a depository hub in Westchester County. From there they will be forwarded to the Division of Criminal Justice in Albany, which will check the prints against a national database.
an abstract of any criminal activity will be sent back to Town Hall. Lombardi said that in the interest of privacy, only the supervisor and town clerk will have access to the report. The protocol will only be applied to applicants over 18 years old.
Lombardi said that when he originally got the idea, he approached Carmel Police Chief Mike Cazzari with it and Cazzari was immediately on board.
“Typically, we would look at a person and see if there is any record of crime,” Cazzari said of the background checks. “We don’t want them messing with [town] finances or personal information if they were once involved with crimes like identity theft or around kids if they [were convicted of child abuse]. You don’t really know who someone is just from the name, so fingerprints are an important tool.”
Cazzari said that if a potential employee has been convicted of a crime, it wouldn’t necessarily preclude them from getting a job. He said it would depend on the type of crime and what job the applicant was applying for.
“You have to look at the totality of the situation,” he said. “Maybe it was a DWI. What job are they applying for?”
Cazzari said it would cost the Town of Carmel between $70 and $95 per fingerprint submission.
“I think it’s worth it for the peace of mind,” he said. “I know you have to balance civil liberties against everyone’s protection, but I think it’s worth doing.”
After Lombardi proposed the measure last year several public hearings on the new law were scheduled and then postponed before one was finally held earlier this summer.
“There were some issues that required approval from Department of Justice and we had our attorney reach out to them on some concerns that the board had and it got resolved,” Lombardi said.
When the public hearing was finally held, no one showed up to criticize the law.
“I don’t know too many who would think it was a bad idea,” Lombardi said. “The public hearing was real quick because it’s common sense in light of what we see going on in other places.”
Lombardi said the wording of the law was crafted by the town attorneys.
“We looked around and searched other towns [to find similar laws] and our town counsel and labor counsel helped us draft it,” he said.
Lombardi said the town has never had any major problems with any of its employees, but wants to be safe rather than sorry.
“We have tried to be proactive in everything we do,” he said. “God forbid we have a problem come up and then have to react to it.”
Lombardi said there have been no job applications submitted since the new law went into effect.