Why Guardian Alliance Technologies made easy access to The National Decertification Index a standard part of Its free Triage Center
Putting more information at the fingertips of law enforcement agencies nationwide helps keep the bad apples out
Content provided by Guardian Alliance Technologies
By Justin Biedinger
Recently, we announced that we 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 in keeping bad apples out of the law enforcement profession by putting more information at the fingertips of law enforcement agencies nationwide. We believe this, because it’s a fact.
When I founded Guardian, I did it because I saw, first-hand, the inefficiencies and risks associated with the background investigation processes we used during my time as a background investigator and I felt like there had to be a better way. In time, I learned that the same type of process was, and still is, in use by thousands of agencies across the country. These processes are not only obsolete and wasteful of time and resources, but they present unintended dangers to the communities served. The repercussions of accidentally allowing a bad apple onto a force can be seen in today’s headlines almost weekly, and there is something we can do about it. The key is greater access to information for all agencies, and the resources to provide that access already exist.
Initially, at Guardian, our goal was to provide software that made the background process faster, but along the way, we discovered we had an opportunity to create a system that would also lead to better outcomes. This has been happening thanks in great part to input from law enforcement professionals all over the country, particularly from our customers and members of our advisory board. Among all of the improvements and all of the feature updates, however, it has become obvious that efficient access to more information on the applicant being evaluated is often the most valuable. We are committed to the continued development of an ecosystem where agencies have greater ability to easily identify wandering officers and applicants who are trying to lie their way onto a police force.
Following are some excerpts from an article that appeared in the Yale Law Journal in 2020, entitled "The Wandering Officer":
“In some instances, an agency may hire a wandering officer simply because it does not know about the officer’s past.”
“The favored solution here is to build a robust national decertification database.” and “To be sure, a national database does already exist—the NDI described in Part I.”
“Our data and findings highlight both the importance and limits of a national decertification database as a tool to stop wandering officers. On the one hand, our finding that wandering officers are more likely than other officers to be fired, including for misconduct, and more likely to be subject to serious misconduct complaints, underscores the importance of some kind of national—and mandatory—tracking system. Such a tool could help agencies avoid hiring wandering officers who saunter in from other states.”
There is no mystery here. Only more information at the fingertips of law enforcement agencies will eliminate the core problem - accidentally hiring bad apples. Providing greater visibility on officers who have left employment in the midst of a misconduct incident or have been terminated for misconduct, will not just cut down on these instances, it holds the potential to completely eliminate the “wandering officer”.
Imagine the case in Ohio, where a newly hired officer was involved in a controversial fatal shooting. It was later discovered that he had been deemed unfit for duty by his previous employer, but before he was terminated, he resigned. His new employer was unaware of the specifics of his separation from his previous job. They were not required to inspect his personnel file and he did not disclose the details. Had the NDI been in use by both agencies, he likely would never have been hired by the second agency. This is a real world example of how sharing information - or not - could be a life or death matter.
The NDI and Guardian’s NAIC are the only two national databases (both can be used for free) which provide agencies with access to (a) information on officers who have been terminated or who resigned in connection with a misconduct incident or investigation (if they have been entered into the NDI), and (b) bad apples who are trying to lie their way through the hiring process in order to gain a spot on the force. Because we believe that greater access to information, and the sharing of information between agencies, is the only proven and immediately available way to maximize the efficacy of efforts aimed at keeping bad apples off the force, making access to the NDI part of the Guardian solution was an automatic decision, and we take pride in promoting it as we promote the Guardian solution in general.
Guardian’s goal is to help dramatically increase the use of the NDI nationally. As of this writing, it is estimated that only about 3,700 (21%) of the nation'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 this can and should change very rapidly. It is proven that use of it pays dividends in the form of greater public safety on local, state, and national levels and holds the power to save lives, and...it’s free.
To learn more, visit Guardian's website and request an online demonstration of our software.
About the author
Justin Biedinger is the founder, president and director of Guardian Alliance Technologies, Inc. and a director of Guardian Alliance Holdings, Inc. Justin spent four years in the U.S. 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 policing career working in different assignments within patrol before joining the background investigation unit to assist in hiring new officers.