Free Background Checks Offered For Evacuees, Hosts
By LENNY SAVINO
Sep 10, 2005
TAMPA Whether you're a parent thinking of offering a room to a hurricane evacuee or an evacuee with children who has been offered shelter, the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement say they can help put your mind at ease.
On Friday, both agencies announced they are offering free criminal history checks aimed at protecting children who may come in contact with prospective hosts or evacuees.
The checks are available to hosts and evacuees as well as service agencies such as the American Red Cross, which is screening relief workers and volunteers.
The objective is to prevent sex offenders and other felons from gaining access to children. The checks will be done at local sheriff's offices, including those in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.
"In a chaotic situation like this, there are always people out there looking to take advantage," Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said. "We're willing to do the background checks to keep some of these people away and send a message to those who are thinking about it."
Normally, FDLE checks cost $23 and FBI checks cost $24, according to Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for Gee.
To qualify for a free check of an evacuee, a potential host must provide proof of residence. An evacuee checking a host has to provide evidence of an offer of shelter. Names to be checked require a date of birth and preferably a Social Security number, Carter said.
Fingerprint checks also are available and are much more reliable, according to Stephen Fischer, an FBI spokesman. There are 50 million convicted criminals in the FBI database.
Applications for jobs that require checks yield hits about 10 percent of the time, Fischer said.
About 50 people were checked Friday through the program.
A New Port Richey woman who offered shelter to evacuees on a Web site says the free checks are a good idea.
"Excellent, I'm so glad to hear that," Colleen Sleszynski said Friday. She and her husband have two toddlers.
Colleen and David Sleszynski's advertisement on Share yourhome.com stipulates "NO CRIMINAL RECORDS! NO DRUGS! ID required for all adults."
So far, they haven't found a family to shelter. Red Cross officials say most evacuees in the Tampa Bay area are staying with friends or relatives.
Sleszynski recently e-mailed everyone in her address book, seeking shelter for evacuees. The request was forwarded to many more, resulting in 105 e-mails to Sleszynski offering rooms, homes and RVs.
"I keep thinking about how Hurricane Charley was heading right for Tampa last year," Sleszynski said. "It could have happened to us."
For information on where to go for the checks, call the sheriff's offices at (813) 247-8000 in Hillsborough County, (727) 582-6200 in Pinellas County, and 1-800-854-2862 in Pasco County. Ask for the records or identification sections.
"There are always people … looking to take advantage."
DAVID GEE Hillsborough County sheriff
It looks like some of the refugees are a considerable threat to children.........
Evacuee Charged With Raping Mentally Challenged Girl
Lt. Rodney Neighbors of the Garland County Sheriff’s Department says an 18-year-old Louisiana man has been arrested for and charged with rape.
Glenn Dorsett is accused of raping a 13-year-old mentally challenged girl from New Orleans at the Assembly of God church campground on Hwy. 7 that has been set up for hurricane evacuees. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Lt. Neighbors says Dorsett's adult arrest history since he turned 18 years old includes Louisiana charges of aggravated criminal damage to property, illegal use of weapons, terrorizing, disturbing the peace, criminal trespass, manufacturing - distribution - possessing a controlled substance and possession of marijuana and crack cocaine. Neighbors says his juvenile history is unknown.
Garland County Sheriff's Dept.
Monika Rued, Web Producer
Created: 9/9/2005 12:31:30 PM
Updated: 9/9/2005 4:16:16 PM