Tow truck operators could face additional background scrutiny
Idaho State Police (ISP) is planning to bring legislation forward in the next legislative session asking for a more thorough background check for tow truck driver operators who tow for the agency.
Currently in Idaho, there is a law allowing ISP to run background checks on operators who tow for them based on their records within the state. The legislation would expand the parameters to all 50 states. Meaning, if a tow truck operator wants to be part of ISP’s tow rotation, not only would any criminal record in Idaho be subject to review, but any record in the other 49 states would be as well.
Sgt. Sam Ketchum, with Region 3 of ISP, explained, “We currently do a background check on all of our tow truck operators that are on our tow truck rotations as it concerns the state police. Obviously, we try not to let criminals or felons, or people like that tow for us because they are securing property that we’ve taken people away from.”
The proposed legislation came as a surprise to Randy Colson, president of Idaho Towing and Recovery Professionals. He said he was under the impression that background checks like this are already done. “To the best of my knowledge they already do that. So, I don’t know enough about it (legislation), I guess, to give you a very intelligent comment truth be known.”
Ketchum said, “The thing that the legislation is doing is expanding it so we can check all 50 states for their (tow truck operator) background as opposed to just Idaho’s. So right now, as it stands, say tow operator A wants to apply to state police to be on our rotation. We will do a background check, but only in Idaho. So whatever they have done in other states, we don’t know about. … If they want to get on the rotation then they know they have to submit a packet and submit to these things (background checks). All we’re doing is expanding the opportunity for us to look outside just the state of Idaho. We’re going to look at all 50 states.”
Ketchum said that there are around 50 tow truck operators on the voluntary tow rotation for ISP in Region 3, based out of Meridian. Region 3 covers 10 southwest counties: Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley and Washington. There are six regions in the state, with other centers in Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston, Jerome, Pocatello and Idaho Falls.
Think about the scene of an accident. If your vehicle is disabled requiring a tow, it and whatever is in it are out of sight and control of the owner. Ketchum said that because someone’s property is being essentially taken away and put in the hands of the tow truck operator, ISP doesn’t just look for felonies or heinous crimes, but also crimes against people or possessions.
“We look for felonies is the big thing,” said Ketchum. “We look for any kind of crimes against people such as petty theft, burglary, things like that. When we need a tow truck, basically we have removed the driver from their property either through arrest or crash or a motorist assist or something. Because we are removing them from that property we want to make sure that person who is coming to get that vehicle is somewhat responsible. Obviously we don’t want them to have this background of theft, or violence, or things like that. We’re turning property over to them.”
In Idaho in 2010, there were 7,729 single vehicle accidents and 14,826 multi-vehicle accidents. ISP was the lead investigator in 3,683 of the accidents, or an average of 10 crashes per day. In all, ISP is responsible for patrolling 60,000 miles of roadway in the state.