Background checks vary in depth, cost

Background checks vary in depth and cost, depending on how thoroughly an employer screens its workers.

The Washington State Fair performs a name and date of birth search for all employees working at the fairgrounds.

Spokeswoman Karen LaFlamme said employee background checks for the fair and carnival operator Funtastic are handled by the Puyallup Police Department, which is in charge of fair security, and a contracted company.

Police spokesman Scott Engle said the department recommends people use the Washington State Patrol’s WATCH (Washington Access to Criminal History) program for in-state background checks.

LaFlamme said the fair steers clear of it, because the system doesn’t catch misspelled names and typos.

Funtastic employees are checked for active warrants or active supervision status, such as being a registered sex offender or a state Department of Corrections offender.

Employees of the fair undergo a more thorough search that looks for county, federal, and multi-jurisdictional or criminal charges and records, as well as misdemeanors. Names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers are used to look up the information.

LaFlamme said background checks can range from about $10 per person per check to $40 per person, and the fair’s system is on the more expensive end of the spectrum.

The State Patrol’s WATCH program is $10 per person per check, which is an average cost for background checks of that nature, Engle said.

Sources: Washington State Fair, Puyallup police and Washington State Patrol

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