Alabama Campus Shooter Possibly not Properly Screened before Hiring

Reports are surfacing that the professor charged with the fatal shooting of three colleagues last week in Alabama had a violent history that perhaps could have been discovered—with more thorough background screening.

Amy Bishop, who also wounded three others, had more than one incident in her criminal past. She was arrested in 2002 for assaulting a woman in a pancake restaurant—over a child’s booster seat. She shot and killed her brother in 1986, in what was officially ruled an accident. And she was questioned about a mail bomb received by her supervisor at Harvard.

The question remains: was this information available, and not acted upon by the University? Or did the University of Alabama use an insufficient level of pre employment screening for Amy Bishop’s position?

Employers typically choose from several levesl of background screening. The lowest level might be enough for a back office employee with no client contact, on-the-job driving, or access to sensitive data. On the other hand, day care providers and nursing homes, who work with vulnerable populations, need all the information they can get on a potential hire.

Why not the University of Alabama? Isn’t it better to know more, rather than less, information on a university professor, who is in a position of power and influence over students?

Now that the damage has been done, and the victims’ families face untold grief and loss, it is easy to look back and wish things had been done differently. Instead of regretting inaction, isn’t it better to take all possible actions—before workplace violence occurs?

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