Seekonk Votes to Fingerprint the Ice Cream Man

The town meeting-approved bylaw must be reviewed by the attorney general before it can be implemented.

If you want drive your own ice cream truck or sell door-to-door Bibles in Seekonk, you better not have an extensive criminal background. The town meeting on Monday approved an article calling for fingerprint-based criminal background checks on people applying for certain licenses.

Proponents of the measure, including Police Chief Ronald Charron, said it would add an extra layer of protection for Seekonk residents. Opponents said it was an example of government getting too involved in people's lives.

The background checks would cost applicants $100. Those subject to them would be people applying for or in possession of licenses for hawking and peddling, alcohol, dealing second-hand articles, pawning, hackney driving and ice cream truck vending.

"It's an unfortunate fact of our life that there are people out there like Jerry Sandusky who are only there to hurt people," said Michael Brady, a member of the Finance Committee and a former selectman. "And I certainly don't want to be responsible in any way for allowing the next Jerry Sandusky to get access to people."

Also speaking in favor of the measure was Lauren Walsh, chair of the Capital Improvement Committee. She said people who live in the quiet, residential areas of Seekonk are "naïve to the activity that occurs in the south end of town." Walsh said while she was working on Commerce Way, she was met by several peddlers she described as "shady."

"I'm a libertarian, all about freedom and all of that, but you've got some smooth and slick characters," Walsh said.

School Committee member Brian Freitas looked at the situation differently. He said this was a well-intentioned measure, but it allowed government to reach too far into people's lives.

"We cannot bubble-wrap each and every one of our lives for the sake of protection," Freitas said. "Again, this is our freedom and our civil liberties being chipped away in the name of security."

Seekonk resident Jimmy Furtado said he felt bad for people who would have to pay money fort the background checks.

"Someone that drives an ice cream truck for a summer job has got to pay a hundred bucks, I think that's a little extreme," he said.

Several people asked questions about the measure. They were told only the applicant for the license would be subject to the background check, not the employees of a business. Political campaigners and volunteer fundraisers would not be affected because they do not have to apply for licenses since their activities are protected by the First Amendment.

Ten people voted against the measure. Approximately 40 voted in favor of it.

The town has been given the authority to create this bylaw by a state law that went into effect last month.

Similar measures have been approved in other Massachusetts municipalities. Local governments have had the ability to do state background checks, but these bylaws allow them to bring the research to a national level.

Attorney Joyce Frank, a legal consultant for the town, said the state law has not been challenged, but the attorney general has rejected some provisions of bylaws approved by municipalities. The attorney general has 90 days to review Seekonk's version.

Charron called the state law "probably one of the best laws that have been passed by the Mass. legislature to allow the safety of the residents in this community."

Mark Stanton June 13, 2012 at 12:14 PM
This law is completely useless as is. I'm sure the owner of Paglis ice cream trucks doesn't drive his own trucks!!! The law should require that the owners of company's peddling their wares in Seekonk should show proof of their own background checks done on their employees before permitted to peddle. Who ever drafted this law, needs to go back to school
Mark Stanton June 13, 2012 at 12:19 PM
This law does absolutely nothing to protect the citizens of Seekonk. It doesn't go far enough. It's like running half a race and saying "well I almost finished" You actually have to finish the race! This law comes close, but because it doesn't go far enough, it changes nothing and adds no value. It's useless.
Mark Stanton June 13, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Amy June 13, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Since my daughter went to High School when Dr. Goyette was there, please don't tell me it's a waste of money to fingerprint anyone near our children. Where do you think these people prey? And, what better use of our money than to protect our kids from these animals?
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) June 13, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I uploaded the article.
Dave Abbott June 13, 2012 at 01:21 PM
If you read the state law attached to the article it will explain why the ordinance is worded as certain way and what the restrictions are. I am surprised by the $100 fee, when the state keeps only $30. The article is also unclear because it mentions "in possession of", followed later by the license applicant only. Where I have the biggest concern are the out of state book and magazine peddlers that make their way through our neighborhoods each year. I really do not want them knocking on my door at all, but if this process takes a step towards insuring persons with a criminal background in theft are not canvassing our homes door to door then I support the concept, but feel the fee should be more reasonable and business friendly.
deb of see-attleboro June 13, 2012 at 01:39 PM
By your reasoning, every parent should be fingerprinted. Have no fear. Plans are in the works to have every child micro-chipped.
deb of see-attleboro June 13, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I think the fee should be higher. Take the profit and put it in a fund to be used when the Town is inevitably sued for disseminating someones criminal record to the public.
Dave Abbott June 13, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Deb- if you read the statute the record is not disseminated to the public. It is reviewed by a designated and properly trained official (with policy developed from the law). Based on that policy the license is either granted or rejected. In RI this is commonplace, appointments were made at the local PD for livescan (fingerprinting without ink) as part of the prospective employment for day care, schools, and other functions. The cost is far less there.
nucky thomson June 13, 2012 at 05:50 PM
the town can and or will be sued beware of mr brown !
nucky thomson June 13, 2012 at 05:51 PM
well said, like a true statist that you are, con man
nucky thomson June 13, 2012 at 05:57 PM
to give up liberty, to government is a road to statist socialism and or serfdom. the taxpayers in this town need a schooling in our constitution real bad.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) June 13, 2012 at 05:58 PM
"Nucky," could you please point to the feature in the Constitution that gives somebody the right to a business license?
nucky thomson June 13, 2012 at 05:59 PM
well said like the statist you are!
Chris June 13, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Interesting Dave that you mentioned your biggest concern was out of state peddlers. I just had a guy park in front of my house this afternoon, rang the doorbell, showed me his ID card stating he's works for the 'Neilsen Rating" and started asking me personal questions. Such as: Do I have cable or satellite? I felt like asking him if he sees a dish on my roof, but I didn't. Then he asked if I had anyone under 18 living in my house. My response, I rather not answer, that's a personal question. He said "thank you" and left. He has Rhode Island plates. I don't mind those that are trying to sell you magazines or books for kids, what I don't like are those trying to get useless information like this guy today and those individuals who knock on my door and start talking about their religious beliefs.
deb of see-attleboro June 13, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Chris: As far as I know, there really is no law that prevents people from knocking on a random door and asking questions. Should there be?
Peter Hoogerzeil June 14, 2012 at 12:27 AM
I opposed this measure at town meeting because of the scope of the bylaw is extreme. Not only were ice cream truck drivers and door to door peddlers targeted, so we're antique dealers, junkyards, and consignment shops. I suggested to the town meeting that the measure be voted down in order to slow down and observe to for certain lawsuits against this legislation. After that, I was indirectly accused of not wanting to protect children, and the police chief said shooting this down could result in an undererred crime. The fear mongering was actually shocking. I sure hope this law gets challenged in federal court as a violation of the first Amendment, because the court in the past has defined door to door solicitation as free speech. This law unfortunately will not protect people from predators. It will only expand the law enforcement establishment and raise revenue for the government.
nucky thomson June 14, 2012 at 02:01 AM
seek and learn statist
nucky thomson June 14, 2012 at 02:09 AM
gov can not pick and or aid or supress any indiviual, and that means targeting a class of people, or title. pass it see what happens. this is just another form of nanny statist, socalist control bs.
nucky thomson June 14, 2012 at 02:12 AM
or breaking constitutional law
paul June 14, 2012 at 03:43 AM
You lost in seekonk go back to East Prov!
paul June 14, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Nelson Almeida , You lost in seekonk go back to East Providence.
deb of see-attleboro June 14, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Peter: Government has found the path of least resistance in Seekonk. It's our open town meeting. The fear mongering is shocking, for sure. But it is even more shocking to read some of the comments that say this law does not go far enough. To these people I say, be careful what you wish for. The government is very willing and able to accommodate your demands. It is even more disturbing to know that those who should be standing between us and tyranny have become the tools of the trade, so to speak. I'm very disappointed in those of military background and those in law enforcement who support such incremental tactics. Is it any wonder people "cling to their guns and religion"?
Shee G June 14, 2012 at 05:35 PM
More needs to be done to keep our children safe and our families too, we cannot put our heads in the sand or just look the other way anymore, when out of state rs are making themselves known also in unimaginable ways! and Learning all YOU need for self defense may help YOU also! Blessings!
deb of see-attleboro June 14, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Shee G: When you write "blessings" what do you mean?
Shee G June 14, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Blessings to all! In case anyone needs to understand this clearer!
Wilma Fingerdoo June 14, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Yes, keep your children safe from child predators. That means fingerprint their uncles, parents, and the people they know and trust- this is who preys on our children 95% of the time. The urban legend of the child predator being behind the bushes or *gasp* in an ice cream truck trying to make a 50 cent profit on a Chocotaco is perpetuated by the 24/7 media. Fingerprint away and waste everyone's time and money. It won't change the statistics.
Chris June 15, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Deb- It may not be against the law for someone to knock on my door. However, I don't appreciate anyone asking personal questions such as if I have cable or satellite? Or if there's someone living in my house who is under 18. I don't know this individual from anywhere. If you have a minor living in your home, would you want someone to ask you that question or better yet, asking you personal questions?
deb of see-attleboro June 15, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Chris: I don't think it is wise for anyone to answer a strangers personal questions, regardless if there is a minor in the home. I also do not understand why a person selling kids books is welcome in your home while someone who is "selling" salvation would not be welcome.....at least as it pertains to safety.
ian June 16, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Yeah, an ice cream truck is definitely the way to go when attempting to abduct children...Screw trying to be "inconspicuous". A big truck, with blaring music, being driven in broad daylight, is the clearly the logical choice for this endeavor. Thank god our loving government is here to protect us from these evil purveyors of frozen snacks.


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