Drug possession, domestic violence, repeatedly driving drunk, assault with a deadly weapon — any one of these charges or convictions could lead child protective services workers to remove children from a home or force a parent into counseling. But all of those crimes and many others appear in the backgrounds of employees of Sacramento County's Child Protective Services, a Bee investigation has found.
A review of the agency's 969 workers employed as of Oct. 1 found that at least 68 individuals – 7 percent of the work force – have criminal records in Sacramento County alone. The number is likely to be even higher because some names were too common to retrieve all criminal complaints linked to them, and records in other counties were not searched.
Although the county child protection agency has a policy to perform criminal background checks on prospective employees – and says it is alerted by the state if a current employee is arrested – the ranks at CPS include offenders convicted of such crimes as possession of heroin for sale, theft, embezzlement, spousal abuse, obstructing an officer, prostitution and identity theft.
One county worker who was a receptionist at two CPS offices is a registered sex offender. One social worker has a pending court case over claims that she harassed her neighbors with laser beams and obscene tirades. A family service worker was charged in August with stealing gas from a county pump.
CPS Director Laura Coulthard and her boss at the county, Lynn Frank, declined to be interviewed. But The Bee's examination prompted Coulthard to issue two memos to agency employees in the past month, warning that their names and criminal histories might be published.
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