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City of Charlotte expands background checks after employee's arrest

The City of Charlotte is now requiring all departments to run background checks on job applicants that include a search of federal offenses throughout the country. City officials changed the policy after police questioned a city employee in the murder of a fifteen-year-old girl this week. WFAE's Lisa Miller has more: Charlotte Mecklenburg Police say 36-year-old Royce Mitchell is a person of interest in the murder of Tiffany Wright. He's been arrested, not for the shooting, but for an outstanding warrant for statutory rape in July. Police say Wright was the victim in that case. Mitchell had been part of a street maintenance crew for the city's Department of Transportation since 2007 and this arrest led city officials to take a closer look at his record. Tim Mayes, the city's Director of Human Resources, says the city found that Mitchell withheld information about previous federal convictions outside of North Carolina. The city fired him this week for falsifying his job application. Mayes says Mitchell's case has prompted the city to require all departments, not just the police and fire departments to check job applicant's records for federal offenses throughout the country. "I think that as we've looked at where our policy is now that you've got to be smart with the expenditure of funds," says Mayes. "I think by mandating now that we do this in every single situation that's a smart use of taxpayers' funds." Under the old policy, the City of Charlotte only required departments to run background checks for federal offenses in western North Carolina. The city also checks databases for convictions at the state and local levels where an applicant has lived. Mayes expects the new policy will cost the city a couple thousand dollars a year. He says city officers are discussing whether to retroactively run the expanded background checks on employees. Mayes says the federal crimes Mitchell was convicted of wouldn't necessarily have barred the city from hiring him. It's been reported Mitchell served time for a drug-related crime.