The hiring of police officer Marcus Jackson, who is accused of sexually assaulting five female motorists, shows flaws in how the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department screens officer candidates, reports the Charlotte Observer. Police in charge of evaluating Jackson’s background missed several red flags that likely would have disqualified him from joining the force, says Deputy Chief Ken Miller. One flag was a 2005 civil restraining order that alleged Jackson had hit and slapped his girlfriend.
Police mistakenly believed the criminal background checks they performed also revealed civil restraining orders from a job candidate’s past. So police were not taking crucial steps necessary to uncover allegations of domestic violence filed only in civil courts. Jackson’s hire raises questions about how thoroughly the department vets officers and how vigorously it looks for domestic violence – which can reveal anger issues and other personal problems about a candidate. “It’s just something they’re not paying attention to,” says Mike Sexton, a spokesman for the Mecklenburg County Women’s Commission.
Police Chief Rodney Monroe called Jackson’s screening “not very efficient work.”
Deputy Chief Miller says he believes it’s rare for a candidate with Jackson’s history to get through the department’s screening, which involves interviews, reference checks, a polygraph exam and a variety of physical, academic and psychological tests.
The department, which evaluates on average 120 to 150 candidates a year, also checks credit and looks for civil default judgments and lawsuits that might shed light on a candidate’s character.