Michigan Shooting Spree Sparks Questions About Uber's Hiring and Vetting Procedures
Representatives claim company's hiring practices are "thorough and effective"
brightcove.createExperiences(); A seven-hour shooting spree allegedly committed by an Michigan Uber driver that killed six and wounded two on Saturday has raised questions about the car-hailing service’s hiring and vetting processes.
The driver, 45-year-old Jason Dalton, faces six counts of murder and other charges. Dalton admitted “his involvement in these incidents,” Kalamazoo County prosecutor Jeff Getting told reporters, according to multiple reports.
On Monday, a spokeswoman for Uber referred PEOPLE to an online article detailing the company’s employment practices and said that Dalton’s record was unblemished in the previous seven years, the period covered under Uber’s background checks.
However, according to the New York Daily News, Dalton was ticketed for speeding six times between 1990 and 2006.
“He had no criminal background so nothing would have turned up for him during the background check he passed,” says Uber’s Rachel Whetstone. “Unfortunately, this man just decided to go and do what he did. It is hard to know how to deal with these people who go rogue.”
Whetstone tells PEOPLE Dalton had only been driving for Uber “for a month.” The app’s users rated him highly over the course of the 100-plus pick ups he’d made since mid-January, she said.
“This has been hard for us to process,” Whetstone admits.
Uber requires all potential “driver-partners” to undergo a screening process performed by Checkr, a firm that reviews criminal histories.
Checkr runs “a social security trace to identify addresses associated with the potential driver-partner’s name during the past seven years, and then searches for his or her name and addresses in a series of national, state and local databases for convictions in the last seven years,” according to the policies posted on Uber’s website.
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Applicants’ driving records are also analyzed, according to Uber, which provides 3 million rides to its customers each day.
“The purpose of running these background checks is to identify offenses and other information that may disqualify potential driver-partners from using Uber,” the company’s policy states.
Registered sex offenders, suspected terrorists, and those with felony convictions on their record are disqualified during Uber’s screening process, the company’s policies state.
But those who’ve been critical of Uber’s hiring practices insist seven years paints an incomplete picture of a potential driver’s record.
While Uber admits its process isn’t perfect, the company’s terms and conditions alerts riders to risks, saying: “You understand, therefore, that by using the application and the service, you may be exposed to transportation that is potentially dangerous, offensive, harmful to minors, unsafe or otherwise objectionable, and that you use the application and the service at your own risk.”
On Monday, during a conference call with reporters, Uber representatives said they have no immediate plans to update the company’s hiring practices, calling its current process “thorough and effective.”
One Uber representative said “no background check process would have anticipated this situation.”
Paul Matyas, Undersheriff of the Kalamazoo Police Department, tells PEOPLE Dalton has “talked to us about the incident but we are keeping that extremely close to the vest.”
More than 36 hours after the shootings, Matyas concedes investigators “really aren’t any closer to why he did this than we were two hours afterward.”
The Uber representatives said engineers continue to develop technological upgrades that will make the service safer.