Hoop monitors appear on mayor’s list

The 10 volunteers promising to monitor the hoops at Memorial Park will require child abuse and sex clearances.

Anyone volunteering in an environment with direct, indirect or immediate contact with children is required to show proof of clearances before interacting with children, according to the 1998 state Child Protective Services law. In some instance, FBI checks are needed with fingerprint registration. Between the two processes, the costs can range to about $100 per individual.

Because the volunteers will answer directly to the mayor, they might need to, according to a city solicitor.

“Clearances are not needed,” Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said, adding, “I am not putting the city at that risk,” he said. “They (volunteers) are just going to come to me.”

The court reappeared this week after five years since the mayor had the hoops removed due to drug activity occurring at the court.

“I am not questioning anybody on the committee,” City Councilman Randall J. Allison said, having recently been forwarded a copy of those on the committee. “I am saying there is a procedure and if they are interacting in any way on a city sanctioned committee they must have those clearances, for their protection, the city protection and public protection — intended to screen and catch obvious problems.”

“They will not engage with participants on the court,” Campana said. “Never said that they would be working directly with children. They will provide feedback and will work with families through their churches to advocate appropriate behavior.”

But Allison, who said he wants to see the basketball courts remain up, without any snafu, said they were never given details of the committee purpose, role or latitude, Allison said.

“At first, it sounded like they would be responsible to do policing and tending to the area and policing some games,” Allison said, adding, “later in the conversation, we were told they would walk around to ensure nothing suspicious or criminal occurs, so what exactly are they doing?” he asked.

Campana said the hoopla is nonsense. The committee consists of retired pastor, youth advocates in the city and coaches, he said.