American Red Cross Responds to ARRL Concerns Regarding Background Checks
In November 2007, ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, wrote to the American Red Cross (ARC) regarding concerns voiced by ARRL volunteers. In 2006, the Red Cross stated it would implement background checks that included, among other things, a credit check and a "mode of living" check for its staff and volunteers, including ARES volunteers providing services to the Red Cross during disasters. ARRL saw these portions of the background check as unneeded and inappropriate for ARES service.
In a letter dated May 8 of this year, Armond T. Mascelli, ARC Vice President for Disaster Response Services replied to President Harrison: "I can now report back to you that [these] actions have been completed and changes have been instituted which I trust resolves the concerns detailed in your letter. This effort took considerably more time and attention than originally envisioned, but I believe the results will now benefit our respective organizations.
"A new background consent form now [is] to be used by all Red Cross chapters for ARRL members and other partner organizations. The form and related process is limited to the name and social security number verification of the individual, and a criminal background check. References and suggestions to other related investigative possibilities have been stricken."
ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Dennis Dura, K2DCD, announced the resolution at the ARRL ARES forum at the Dayton Hamvention® and received hearty applause.
"We are very pleased that the American Red Cross has addressed some of the issues that we raised regarding their background investigations and that we can move forward in a relationship that has existed for a long, long time," Harrison said. "The American Red Cross and the ARRL have shared a productive relationship for many years which has been of benefit to both the organizations and to the public. We are glad that throughout the past months we have been able to negotiate the issues that we had and have finally come to a resolution."
With the background check issue apparently resolved, the ARRL will be working with the ARC in the negotiation and creation of a draft for a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or similar document to replace the one which expired last year; Dura and Keith Robertory of the ARC will be leading the effort. When complete, the draft of the MOU will be presented to the leadership of both organizations for approval.
"The ARRL is very pleased that the American Red Cross has responded appropriately to our concerns about the background check issue," said ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ. "We believe it now will be possible to go forward to negotiate a statement of understanding between the two organizations. We look forward to renewing and expanding the relationship with the Red Cross."