Originally published Aug. 18, 2011By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — Those applying for a mercantile license in the city will soon need to pay for a background check.
At the Aug. 9 City Council workshop, Health Officer David Roach and Public Safety Director Al Muolo said that they believed the city needed a more formal review of backgrounds, and asked council to amend the ordinances to allow a new policy.
“This is just to firm up the city’s liability,” Muolo said.
The city currently licenses about 560 businesses, and issues 50-60 new licenses, or change of ownerships, per year.
Licensing is handled by the health department, but it received input from other city agencies, notably the police department. Until a year or two ago, the Long Branch Police Department had access to the state police department’s database to run checks.
The city would not perform the checks; they would be performed by MorphoTrak, a nationwide company that handles biometric and identity management — in this case, fingerprints. MorphoTrak has an office in Ocean Township.
Applicants would be fingerprinted, and that information would be sent to the state police to check against their criminal database. Muolo said new fingerprinting processes don’t involve any ink, just a computer scan.
In over 90 percent of the cases, the company will report there’s no file on these prints, meaning the applicant has no criminal background, Muolo said.
Police only give the health department a recommendation to accept or reject an applicant. Any information obtained is not shared.
Applicants would need to pay MorphoTrak to process the work, but the city’s licensing fees would remain unchanged.