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Civil Fingerprinting Town Bylaw Passed at North Reading Town Meeting

Residents voted in favor of the Civil Fingerprinting bylaw.

This is the first in a series of articles that will be posted about Town Meeting:

North Reading residents voted in favor of the Civil Fingerprinting town bylaw at Fall Town Meeting Monday night. According to the warrant, the purpose of the article was to establish a local bylaw to enable the police department to do fingerprint based criminal history checks for those applying for positions such as a door-to-door sales person, livery driver and others.

According to Police Chief Michael Murphy, fingerprint based background checks are accurate and thorough. They also allow police to find out if the applicant has a criminal record in a state other than Massachusetts.

"Under the current system, the Federal law prohibits the police department from conducting name and date of birth checks on the national database," Murphy said.

The applicant could have committed a crime in Florida or another state, and with the current system, North Reading Police would not know about that crime, Murphy explained.

State and federal fingerprint based criminal history checks will be conducted for those applying for these positions:

  • Hawking, peddling and other door-to-door sales people
  • Alcoholic beverage license manager
  • Owner or operator of public conveyance
  • Dealer of secondhand articles
  • Pawn dealers
  • Hacnkey and livery drivers
  • Ice cream truck vendors

The applicant will be notified at the time of fingerprinting that the fingerprints will be used for a criminal history check. The person will be provided with the results and if denied a license will be allowed time to either check or correct whatever the crime was if there was a discrepancy, according to Murphy. The fee charged by the police department for the fingerprinting will be determined by the Board of Selectmen, but will not exceed $100.

Murphy recommended this article for "the safety of the public."

The Civil Fingerprinting town bylaw, Article 17 on the warrant, passed at Town Meeting. The bylaw will be effective after approval from the Massachusetts Attorney General.

Please check in with us for more news from Town Meeting.

Janine Largent October 03, 2012 at 06:06 PM
While I also would love a guarantee of safety for myself and my family I realize first, there can be no such guarantee and second to quote Benjamin Franklin "anyone who would trade an essential liberty for a temporary security deserves neither liberty nor security". This invasion of privacy on private individuals who have not been charged with any crime is a slippery slope and in fact the delivering of fingerprints or DNA from a citizen who has not committed a crime is in fact self incrimination.
Joe Veno October 03, 2012 at 11:49 PM
This is a good bylaw and will help protect the citizens of our town.
Janine Largent October 04, 2012 at 08:33 PM
I am sure that it is possible that a potential future citizen may possibly be protected by this bylaw; it will however occur at the expense of loss of privacy and essential liberties of citizens who have not been charged with any crime. Is there some evidence that people with the above mentioned job titles are a greater risk to North Reading citizens? I have no specific statistics but I do watch the news. It seems to me that the individuals being charged with assaulting our children are usually people who have authority over our children: teachers, pastors, coaches. Perhaps we should fingerprint those individuals as it appears they present the greatest risk.

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