By Isabelle Cruz, Editorial Intern
Director of Arcadia’s Recreation and Community Services Sara Somogyi ensures the public that the safety and well-being of recreation participants is a top priority.
Following the events on March 27, when the Arcadia Recreation and Community Services Department received information of suspicious physical contact between one of their part-time employees and a female juvenile who was attending the Afterschool Recreation Program at Longley Way Elementary School, Arcadia Recreation and Community Services immediately notified the Arcadia Police Department and an arrest was made.
After an incident like this, parents may be concerned about the current safety policies. According to Somogyi, the present policies protect the minor attendees and require that all employees that work with minors are trained in identifying, and reporting child abuse and neglect. In addition, every employee goes through a background check that includes a Live Scan fingerprint check to ensure that they are hiring people with clean records and upon hire all employees that work with minors are required to sign a statement acknowledging the requirement to report child abuse and neglect.
If there is any information of any potential concerns, the Rec Department takes serious note of reports and investigates them, according to Somogyi. In the case of Davila, the employee was immediately placed on administrative leave, the Police Department was notified, and an investigation was initiated. The Police Department concluded their investigation within 48 hours and an arrest was made.
The current hiring practice was recently reviewed and it was determined by the Rec Department that appropriate controls are already in place to protect participants to the maximum extent possible.
According to Somogyi, the hiring process proceeds, generally, as follows:
- The Human Resources Division reviews all applications and forwards those that meet the minimum qualifications for the particular job vacancy to the Department for consideration.
- The hiring manager will then review those applications for the candidates that most closely match the needs of the Department and they will be invited to interview.
- Interviews for this particular position are generally conducted with two in-house staff and all candidates would be asked the same sets of questions, which assess both technical skills and moral character-related traits. Based on the overall rank and scores of the candidates, those that meet hiring standards for the job are placed on an eligibility list.
- Candidates who are selected from the eligibility list to move further in the hiring process by the director of the department are put through the “backgrounds” phase. The backgrounds phase consists of a physical, drug test, and Live Scan. Candidates are required to be electronically fingerprinted (“Live Scan”) through the California Department of Justice (DOJ). Specifically, ALL candidates who will be working with minors are Live Scanned through the interstate identification index which is a database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which includes records of crimes committed nationally. All DOJ results are reviewed, including arrest records, to determine if underlying behavior that led to arrest is incompatible with the job-related functions consistent with business necessity. The physical and drug screen are also consistently conducted for positions working with minors.
- Upon being hired, employees receive ethics, customer service, sexual harassment, and other forms of training to ensure they understand the proper ways to interact with the public and conduct the duties of their job.
According to Somogyi, the Rec Department constantly examines their practices and, when appropriate, refines them to keep the participants’ best interests in mind.
Somogyi also wanted to share this message with the public after the recent event:
“The Recreation and Community Services Department is deeply troubled by the actions of Moises Davila, who is no longer employed by the City of Arcadia. We would like to thank the courageous person that notified the Department of this incident and the others who assisted the Arcadia Police Department with the investigation.”
Detectives are looking for additional victims who may have experienced similar circumstances while attending the Afterschool Recreation Program at Longley Way Elementary School involving this suspect. Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to contact the Arcadia Police Department at (626) 574-5151, case number 1901435. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” mobile app on Google Play or the Apple App Store, or by using the website lacrimestoppers.org.