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  • George Wendt, CFI
    replied
    "And the beat goes on.........."

    Most interesting is the last paragraph. Background checks only work if you actually do them.

    _____________________________________________

    MD Firefighter Charged In Arson Fires

    KATE LECKIE
    The Frederick News Post


    BRUNSWICK -- Twenty more arson charges have been issued against a former Brunswick firefighter suspected of setting nearly two dozen blazes in Maryland and West Virginia, Police Chief Clark Price told the Brunswick City Council on Tuesday night.

    In addition to two charges filed by Maryland authorities last week, Shane Michael Manner, 31, has now been charged locally with four counts of second-degree malicious burning and one count of arson involving a trash container, Chief Price said.

    Sheriff's deputies in Hedgesville, W.Va., also have warrants charging Mr. Manner with 15 felony counts of arson for field fires there since last fall.

    Mr. Manner moved from Brunswick to Hedgesville, a small town about 6 miles west of Martinsburg, about a month ago when he was dropped from the Brunswick Volunteer Fire Co.

    One of the first two charges placed against Mr. Manner locally involved a fire on the property of Charles Leopold, who at the time was the Brunswick fire company president.

    Chief Price commended Brunswick Police Capt. Donald Rough and Officer Ed Kornacki for the long hours they spent investigating numerous arson cases that led to the charges.

    "They've taken a dangerous person off the streets," Chief Price said.

    Brunswick Mayor Carroll Jones went a step further, thanking City Administrator David Dunn and Chief Price, who last week marked one year in the job, for his "tenacity" in pursuing the arson investigations.

    "You kept it active. You" made it clear "you were not going to let this pass."

    The investigation is not over yet, Chief Price said.

    "We are continuing to investigate a lot of other fires," he said.

    Deputies with the State Fire Marshal's Office said the case came to fruition last week when Brunswick police charged Mr. Manner with driving while intoxicated and filing a false report of a fire on South Virginia Avenue in Brunswick in November 2001.

    Mr. Manner remains jailed in the Frederick County Adult Detention Center in lieu of $150,000 bail, authorities said.

    Court documents report that Mr. Manner said he "had a lot of stress and would set fires to alleviate stress."

    He also said he had "a serious drinking problem ... and hoped" he'd "get caught," the documents said.

    While volunteering with the Brunswick fire company, Mr. Manner was recognized with one of its highest awards for dedication as its training officer.

    Court records show that Mr. Manner has a criminal history dating back to 1989, including convictions on charges of harassment, assault with intent to maim, battery, breaking and entering, stalking and carrying a concealed deadly weapon.

    [ 01-13-2002: Message edited by: George Wendt, CFI ]

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  • George Wendt, CFI
    replied
    Whoa. Maplewood. Two questions.

    How do you know that someone from the FD said this? If it was common knowledge, why wasn't someone from the neighboring dept. held accountable? Seems to me that this moron would have had a pretty good chance at a favorable plea bargain if he could provide solid info that the FD put him up to it.

    Secondly, why was he even allowed to put in an app? Doesn't OH have any laws which prohibit a convicted felon from holding a public position? Seems to me that even if they didn't, the app could have been torn up and thrown away. What is the complaint going to be? "I am a convicted arsonist and I want to be a FF and they won't let me."? Come on.

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  • MFD
    replied
    we had a guy that was in a neighboring wanted to join the that f.d. so this guy said "if you join you gotta set fire to a house or barn." So he set fire to a house.they caught him put him in a pen for 3-4 years. He got out about 4 years ago. then this last fall he tried to join our dept(cause he knows the dept he orginally tried join wouldn't take him on)(which i wouldn't blame Them)them before we even took a vote we had him sit in his pickup as we voted. He said The chief and Asst Chief (cause the Asst Chief is wife of the chief) would quit if he got voted on. and with only about 13-15 . so not we'd loose our 2 most important officers in the dept. plus we'd have a felon on the dept which looks bad for us.

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  • amfm
    replied
    Good list George.

    Fire Engineering (sorry Firehouse) had a good article recently regarding this issue. Some very good advise on how to make sure that you get firefighters instead of firelighters.

    One that you failed to list George.

    Get at least three references. Then get at least three references from those references who also know the applicant. You now have 12 references and at least nine (9) of those are not ones given by the applicant. If the applicant has a questionable character and he knows it s/he isn't likely to give you references that will speak ill of him/her. The second level, the nine that you got from the applicants' references might give you a clearer picture of the applicant.

    If you still have some questions regarding the applicant, ask the second level of references for two or three more people that know the applicant. If in doubt don't recommend him for membership or maybe invest in that phycological exam that George recommends.

    And I agree, if you aren't willing to spend the time to check out the people who want to join an organization that has the publics trust, you should not be in the position to violate that trust. DO THE JOB OR FIND SOMEONE WILLING TO DO IT RIGHT. The time you take now to check them out might just cause less pain in the future for you and your organization.

    Leave a comment:


  • OakFD703
    replied
    Old Chief: I love your opinion, the good 'ol boy way of handling these things is the best as i am old school myself...but, although it may work down in North Carolina (which is a state i love) in good 'ol lawyer-ridden, liberal NJ, those ways just wont cut it anymore.
    In my Dept. in central NJ we have an extensive application process which includes fingerprinting which, as was previously stated, will only return criminal convictions. It includes an interview process as well. As a police officer i will tell you that in NJ you can not obtain driving history from a local PD. That is illegal and can mean the end of a career for an officer or dispatcher. As far as JV records in NJ, forget it. You as an FD will NOT be getting that info either. Your best solution is to protect yourself legally with a criminal fingerprint background investigation followed up with a character interview and then your membership will have to monitor the new recurits as best as u can. The leadership and fellowship in a Dept will have to do all it can to prevent these tragic cases of fire setters. We can not prevent this from happening totally, just as the police cant prevent police officers from committing crimes totally. We just have to do the best we can and hope for the best.

    Leave a comment:


  • SmokeJockey
    replied
    Come on guys! You can't be on both sides of the fence. Either you fight fire or you light fire, not both. As for punishment, try this on for size:
    Since they like fire SO much, why not lock them in a fire proof room and give them each 1,000,000 birthday candles and not let them out until every one is lit and burning. That should keep those two Dumb @$$es busy for a while. Just for kicks make it a room with an exhaust fan in the ceiling that won't shut off!!

    Or....we could just burn them at the stake! Whatever works for u guys!

    Leave a comment:


  • George Wendt, CFI
    replied
    Old Chief, the question has been answered so many times, I am getting sick of writing it. Three items to take care of.

    1. FD completes background check of applicant to include interview of all references (at least three should be provided) and past employers. Develop comprehensive list of questions before you call.

    2. Have applicant provide you with a complete abstract of his driver's license history (put the onus on him/her). A DL history will give you a real good idea as to what kind of person the applicant is.

    3. Complete psychological examination. A competent forensic psychologist can provide this service and make a strong recommendation as to whether or not the applicant meets the standard for what you, as a professional fire service administrator would expect from an applicant. (Don't be afraid to make a stand and then stick to your guns).

    What? You're only a volunteer and you don't have time to do all this crap? And what? You need all the applicants you get and you can't afford to get that picky? Then you are not truly interested in fixing the problem.

    Leave a comment:


  • ENG 6511
    replied
    OLD CHIEF, I have a solution. Go back 35 years BEFORE we voted the Liberal politicians and Judges into office who now run most aspects of our lives. WaLa, the Political Correct crap goes, common sense prevails again and these issues disappear.

    Leave a comment:


  • OLD CHIEF
    replied
    I don't think the question was answered, does anyone have the solution to this problem?

    Leave a comment:


  • PA Volunteer
    replied
    To back up what George said, we used to have the local PD do background checks for us, that is until it got up the line far enough and someone put a stop to it. There wasn't anything for anyone to get in trouble for ... after all, it was to help the community. Nonetheless, it had to stop. So, now we're back to square one.

    Stay Safe

    Leave a comment:


  • George Wendt, CFI
    replied
    Polygraphs are defintely illegal for pre-employment purposes in NJ. In fact, it is illegal to ask.

    Regarding arrests vs. convictions, the PD can tell you anything they want, even if they aren't supposed to. Obviously, if someone has been arrested "tons of times", it would have been in the newspaper etc. The real question is whether you can use it against him, which you probably can't.

    Your best bet is, again, two-fold. Ask for and check with all references, and check with the past employers. These people will give you the best information. It is all in how you ask them.

    Leave a comment:


  • Kyle Wickman
    replied
    George, so if a applicant has been arrested tons of times and never convicted your local PD can not tell you? Could they tell you that he has had some run ins? Or can they only tell you about covictions period? I also heard that in NJ that polygraphs are illegal for employment purposes.

    Leave a comment:


  • LadyCapn
    replied
    It would seem that Harry Carter has devoted this weeks column to exactly this subject.

    Leave a comment:


  • George Wendt, CFI
    replied
    hc;

    Perhaps you were utilizing the local PD, but what they were doing for you is illegal. In addition, as a non-profit, you can run a background check and, if you have the proper approvals, fingerprint check, but it is illegal to obtain and use criminal history and driver's license abstracts for the purpose of a non-law enforcement background investigation. A PD can only advise about CONVICTIONS, which are public records. They should not be giving out info on arrests w/o convictions and D/L info. It is expressly forbidden in Title 2C.

    (This is NJ info only)

    [ 12-17-2001: Message edited by: George Wendt, CFI ]

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  • hctrouble25
    replied
    George:

    I have to disagree with you. I am located in Central NJ and my fire department does a background check (usually holding up the applicant's ability to join the department for at least a month) on EVERY SINGLE new member that applies to us. We work with the NJSP on this and they are more than willing to assist us. We are very fortunate to have a very good working relationship with them and that has helped us out a lot with these types of requests. We started doing background checks after we had a couple of State Detectives show up looking for one of our members for theft, etc. He never stole from the department, but apparently he stole from everyone else he knew. Once we realized how much we could have lost we voted to do checks on all new members. It has worked out extremely well for us. Get your local council involved, I am sure they will see the benefit of doing background checks. Also, you can go through local Police Departments as well. I used to be the manager and HR Director of a large Non-Profit Organization and I would utilize my local PD to do background checks on all potential employees. They were great, and always helped me out. They also helped me catch a thief that worked for our company....they were always there when I called. Take care and happy holiday to you all!

    Leave a comment:

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