State law already requires carnival companies to conduct background checks on their employees to ensure no sex offenders are hired. Fingerprinting can make those checks more accurate and up to date, Schaumburg Police Chief Jim Lamkin said.
Lamkin, who became Schaumburg's police chief at the end of 2013, said the recommendation to require fingerprinting is a result of his review of the village's codes rather than any prior incidents.
"It was something, from our perspective, to try to do a better job," he said.
In January 2014, then 20-year-old Adam J. Moyers of Franklin Park was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting a 3-year-old in the funhouse at Schaumburg's 2012 Septemberfest. Moyers, who was in charge of monitoring the funhouse, had no criminal history at the time.
The village learned last year that some carnival workers in Schaumburg had not had a fingerprint check as part of their employers' background searches. Fingerprints are the preferred method because they can tell if a person isn't using valid identification and provide information on any recent changes to one's criminal history, Lamkin said.
Some carnival employees also had been allowed to work with temporary work visas, which the carnival operator felt met the background check requirement, Lamkin said. But a work visa issued in January, for instance, would not necessarily reflect any criminal charges before a September carnival.
Lamkin said he recommends fingerprinting within 90 days of the carnival at which a particular person would work.
There are three annual carnivals in Schaumburg: one at Woodfield Mall, one at the Church of the Holy Spirit and the village-run Septemberfest. Lamkin said he hopes to get village code revised before any of this year's events.
Prospect Heights-based Fantasy Amusement Co., which is in the final year of a three-year contract to operate the children amusement rides for sale and games at Septemberfest, has made a few counterproposals to Lamkin's recommendation. The company suggests that other forms of documentation could be adequate for a background check, according to a village memo.
The village board's public safety committee will discuss Lamkin's proposal at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, at village hall, 101 Schaumburg Court.
Representatives of Beston Amusement Co. could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday but are expected to attend Thursday's committee meeting.
The three-member committee will make a recommendation that could be considered by the full village board at its Jan. 26 meeting.