Disturbing details about volunteers, following an audit of Richmond's Parks and Recreation Department.
As many as 10-percent of volunteers may have serious convictions, that disqualify them from volunteering.
Volunteers working with kids are supposed to be checked out and barred from serving as coaches and supervisors at city pools and other recreational facilities.
But, background check polices are not followed, said the city auditor's staff, headed by Umesh Dalal.
The audit team surveyed 30 of the city's one thousand volunteers and reported they found three employees with serious convictions, including drug use, assault, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and destruction of property.
They should have been disqualified and barred from working closely with children and the elderly due to their recent convictions.
The recommendation — reign in control under a central method.
"Try to centralize and improve and strengthen the background check policy across the board," said a member of the audit staff. "I think it would be a good idea for the Parks Department to coordinate what they're doing with HR as well."
The team also reported the policy is confusing and half the volunteers surveyed said their backgrounds were never checked.
Just 12 months into the job, the top guy at Parks and Rec said the department is passionate about the kids and families they serve.
But in some instances, the coaches and volunteers working with kids are parents or family members of kids participating in city programs.
"If you don't have someone in your family that have been incarcerated today, wait around you will or you know somebody who is," said Director of Parks and Recreation Norman Merrifield. "That's another goal and objective we need to direct our attention to."
The Parks and Rec director appreciates the audit team's work, and said it gives him heads up on areas that need improvement, that he may not have known about, until later.
Merrifield is looking forward to developing super centers and a web-based program for registration, in the fall or January, which would address many issues.
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