Content provided by Guardian Alliance Technologies
By Justin Biedinger
Recently, we announced that we have made easy access to the National Decertification Index (NDI) a standard part of the free triage center in Guardian’s background investigation software platform. We believe that huge strides can be made to prevent bad apples from entering the law enforcement profession by making more information available to law enforcement agencies at the nationwide. We believe it, because it is a fact.
When I founded Guardian, I did so because I saw first-hand the inefficiencies and risks associated with the background investigation processes we used during my tenure as an investigator and I had the felt there had to be a better way. Over time, I learned that the same type of process was and still is used by thousands of agencies across the country. These processes are not only outdated and waste time and resources, but they present unintended dangers to the communities served. The repercussions of accidentally leaving a bad apple on a force can be seen in today’s headlines almost every week, and there is something we can do about it. The key is better access to information for all agencies, and the resources to provide that access already exist.
Initially at Guardian our goal was to deliver software that speeds up the background process, but along the way we found that we had the ability to create a system that would lead to better results as well. This has happened in large part thanks to the contributions of law enforcement professionals across the country, especially our clients and members of our advisory board. Of all the enhancements and feature updates, however, it has become evident that effective access to more information about the candidate being assessed is often the most valuable. We are committed to continuing to develop an ecosystem where agencies have a greater ability to easily identify wandering officers and applicants trying to find their way to a police department.
Here are some excerpts from an article that appeared in the Yale Law Journal in 2020, titled “The Wandering Officer”:
“In some cases, an agency may hire a roaming agent simply because they don’t know the agent’s past.
“The preferred solution here is to create a robust national decertification database. And “Of course a national database already exists – the NDI described in Part I.”
“Our data and findings underscore both the importance and the limitations of a national decertification database as a tool to stop wandering officers. On the one hand, our finding that errant officers are more likely than others to be fired, including for misconduct, and more likely to be the subject of serious misconduct complaints, underscores the importance of some sort national and mandatory monitoring system. Such a tool could help agencies avoid hiring roaming agents who come from other states. “
There is no mystery here. Only more information at the fingertips of law enforcement agencies will eliminate the central problem – the accidental hiring of bad apples. Providing greater visibility into which officers left their jobs in the middle of a misconduct incident, or who were terminated for misconduct, will not only reduce these cases, it has the potential to eliminate the “stray agent” altogether. .
Imagine the case of Ohio, where a newly hired officer was involved in a controversial fatal shooting. It was later discovered that he had been deemed unfit for work by his previous employer, but before he was fired he resigned. Her new employer was not aware of the details of her separation from her previous job. They were not required to inspect his personal file and he did not disclose details. If NDI had been used by both agencies, it likely would never have been hired by the second agency. This is a real life example of how sharing information – or not – could be a matter of life and death.
The NDI and the Guardian’s NAIC are the only two national databases (both can be used free of charge) that allow agencies to access (a) information on agents who have been terminated or resigned as part of the process. ‘an incident or misconduct investigation (if they’ve been listed in the NDI), and (b) bad apples trying to make their way through the hiring process in order to earn a place in strength. Because we believe that better access to information and information sharing between agencies is the only proven and immediately available way to maximize the effectiveness of efforts to keep bad apples out of the force, making accessing the NDI part of the Guardian solution was an automatic decision, and we are proud to promote it as we promote the Guardian solution in general.
Guardian’s goal is to help dramatically increase the use of NDI nationwide. At the time of this writing, it is estimated that only about 3,700 (21%) of the country’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies have used the NDI during pre-employment screening. Considering the value it represents and the ease of use, we believe that can and should change very quickly. Its use is proven to pay dividends in the form of greater public safety at local, state and national levels and holds the power to save lives, and … it’s free.
To learn more, visit the Guardian website and request an online demonstration of our software.
About the Author
Justin Biedinger is the Founder, Chairman and Director of Guardian Alliance Technologies, Inc. and a Director of Guardian Alliance Holdings, Inc. Justin spent four years in the United States Navy working in the intelligence community before joining the Stockton Police Department. in Stockton, California, where he worked for 13 years. Justin spent most of his career as a police officer performing various tasks within the Patrol before joining the Background Investigation Unit to help hire new officers.