After two Walton County employees were arrested last month and charged with fraud and theft, the topic of background checks for prospective Walton County employees was discussed.
However, no clear answers were provided.
DeFuniak Springs resident Lynda Morse started the conversation when she asked the commissioners when the county stopped doing background checks.
"If you had done them, you would have found that former employee Mr. Walters is a convicted felon," she told commissioners and the county administrator.
However, Morse did not get an answer to her question.
Commissioners sat silently until Commission Chair Cecilia Jones asked Morse if she was finished.
"No," Morse responded. "Are you going to answer me?"
"No," said Jones.
County Administrator Larry Jones told Morse, "We will look at this."
District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander also questioned the county's policy.
"Is it in our policy that we don't hire those who have spent time in prison? If a person is released from jail and can't get a job, they will go back to jail. How can we help them and protect the public?" Comander said.
District 3 Commissioner Melanie Nipper said that she went through the ledger and found four background checks charged to the county.
"There are second chances and there is grace," Commission Chair Jones told everyone.
District 1 Commissioner Bill Chapman directed staff to look at doing a minimum of background checks on prospective employees.
"There is an understanding that if we have people who have been to jail 10 or 12 years ago and no reoccurrence they might get more consideration than someone who just got out," said Chapman. "Over time things change, people change. In the past we had a hard time filling vacancies because they had a minimum NCIC (National Crime Information Center) check when applying in this county."
Larry Jones did not return phone calls or emails to The Sun's request for information about the county's policy, if there is one, and why it is not being followed.
Instead, the county attorney's office sent a link to the current Walton County Policy and Procedure Manual that states on page 12 that all job applicants will undergo a background check. However, no one responded to emails to confirm if the manual is being followed.