City alters background check requirement after recent firing


AUSTN (KXAN) — The City of Austin Transportation Department will now require background checks for all parking enforcement officers. A department spokesperson said they began considering a change in May, but the checks began after a KXAN Investigation discovered a former employee with an extensive criminal history was hired in 2010 under the “Ban the Box” policy.

Joe Heath was fired from a city job in 2002 and had multiple convictions on his record, yet was re-hired by the city in 2010 without a background check. When the city learned about a 2012 allegation of indecency with a child against Heath, they transferred him from his job in the library system to parking enforcement. He was ultimately fired in August after pleading guilty to the indecency charge in Bastrop County.

Because of the “Ban the Box” policy adopted by the city in 2008, the question about past criminal history has been taken off some city job applications. Background checks are still required for city positions which include contact with children or elderly people. Positions which handle money also require a background check.

Parking enforcement officers, a job Heath once held, will now be one of those positions where a background check will be necessary. A transportation department spokesperson said they began reviewing and rewriting the duties and responsibilities of parking enforcement officers in May, however, background checks of the 26 current enforcement officers are still currently being conducted.

ATD’s Assistant Director Gordon Derr released the following statement:

“Austin Transportation has updated some of our job requirements to now include background checks for all parking enforcement officers. The City of Austin recognizes the important field work these officers provide in the enforcement of City parking ordinances and regulations and we strive to provide a dedicated and productive enforcement staff.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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