Irving, Texas, Oct. 28, 2011 — The Electronic Security Association (ESA) believes that effective security begins long before an electronic security company works with a potential customer. It takes root much earlier, when companies hire employees who will be responsible for working with customers to develop and monitor effective security solutions. Now, ESA is asking its members to take an active role in making the industry safer by supporting background check legislation.
Traditionally, the government has allowed various industries – including banks, credit unions and private security firms – access to utilize the FBI’s database for criminal background checks of potential employees. But electronic security companies are not afforded that same level of access.
That’s why ESA has endorsed S. 1319, the "Electronic Life Safety and Security Systems Federal Background Check Act,” which was introduced in the U.S. Senate on June 30 by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The bill would permit industry companies to access the FBI database for hiring purposes, and also would direct the Attorney General to work with ESA to establish a nationwide system of criminal background checks for employers and employees at electronic security industry companies. Currently, many states have no requirements regarding criminal background checks for security industry employees.
The bill is currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). ESA Government Relations Director John Chwat says what is needed now is contact from ESA members and other industry professionals to their Senators.
"This is a top legislative priority for ESA,” Chwat said. "Now that the bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, we need the strength of our members behind it. We want to urge companies to let their voices be heard by contacting their Senators asking them to co-sponsor S. 1319 and to support passage of the bill. It carries a tremendous amount of impact when a senator hears from his constituents.”
ESA posted a position paper earlier this year, stating that "all employees of the industry need to undergo criminal background checks not only for the employer, but to protect American citizens and provide the most professional services possible in these times of terrorism and increased criminal activity.”
"It is simply an outrage that a potential felon has access to our citizens’ homes and businesses without his employer knowing his or her record,” according to the document. "States are not able to keep up on crimes committed from one state to another, and many private background check services do not capture complete FBI information on which to base a hiring judgment.”
Chwat is quick to correct a misperception that the bill would make background checks mandatory. Instead, he said, the bill would simply grant the life safety and security industry the same access to the FBI database that is currently available to other industries. Ultimately, the Justice Department would work with ESA to establish goals and standards for background checks, including privacy protections and employee rights.
ESA is making it easy for companies and industry professionals to support the bill. Click here to download a customizable letter of support; open the document in Adobe Acrobat Reader to fill in your senator's name, address, and your company name. To find out your senator’s address, please visit www.senate.com and click on "Find Your Senators.”
Copies of your letters can be faxed to John Chwat’s office at (703) 684-6594, or sent via e-mail to email@example.com so that they can be hand-delivered to your senator’s office in Washington, D.C.
Established in 1948, the Electronic Security Association (ESA) is the largest trade association representing the electronic life safety and security industry. Member companies install, integrate and monitor intrusion and fire detection, video surveillance and electronic access control systems for commercial, residential, industrial and governmental clients. In cooperation with an alliance of chapter associations, ESA provides technical and management training, government advocacy and delivers information, advice, tools, and services that members use to grow their businesses and prosper. ESA may be reached at (888) 447-1689 or on the Web at www.ESAweb.org.