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Boy, are they red-faced at the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). That’s the state agency responsible for making sure that children in the care of the state are treated properly. The agency has been in the headlines before for a variety of problems.
Now the Orlando Sentinel reports that “Florida DCF to screen employees’ backgrounds.” What’s involved is a review of the records of all the 13,000 plus agency employees to make sure that every one has been fingerprinted and every one has had a criminal background check.
Why would they do that? The situation is a bit like what happens when a house is burglarized and then the homeowner purchases an alarm system. It takes a crisis to change practice.
This crisis involves the main public spokesperson for the agency. His name is Al Zimmerman and he was the public face of DCF, the person you saw on screen or heard on the radio or saw quoted in the newspaper telling you about the good work that DCF does.
Zimmerman was in those same media on the first of February when he was arrested on eight counts of “using a child in a sexual performance.” The Sentinel reports that, “According to the arrest report, Zimmerman offered two teens money in exchange for photographing them in sexual acts.” One of the teens was in the care of DCF.
The irony is that the background checks that the DCF is instituting wouldn’t have spotted Zimmerman as a potential child porn offender. Despite checking by both law enforcement and, I’m sure, a bevy of investigative reporters, he doesn’t appear to have a record for that kind of thing.
That’s OK, though. Sometimes good comes from bad. If the more extensive background checks that will be run from now on by Florida DCF help keep even one child safe, it will be a very good thing.