Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller makes no bones about it. He is an employee of the State of Missouri, and his loyalty is to her citizens.Some may not realize that much of the background checks that …
Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller makes no bones about it.
He is an employee of the State of Missouri, and his loyalty is to her citizens.
Some may not realize that much of the background checks that are performed on suspects is regulated by the federal government, through various systems.
Those systems come with state and federal regulations to protect certain areas of a person’s privacy. To explain, some systems, like any, Criminal Justice Information Sharing System (CJIS) information, have regulations on information, which makes it available to law enforcement only. The regulations are designed to protect private or sensitive information gathered by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. This could include fingerprints, criminal background information, driver’s license information, or anything else that could be classified as sensitive, such as Social Security Numbers.
Additionally, the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES) information is protected and overseen by the Missouri State Highway Patrol - the custodian of records of criminal history data for the State of Missouri.
While the system does provide a degree of on-line public service to obtain “public” criminal history records – most of these systems are subject to some sort of federal control.
Oller said that in Missouri, to get a Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permit, a criminal history background check must be executed.
“However, by state law, that’s all-closed records and information,” Oller said. “If we run a criminal history on you for a CCW permit, we can’t tell the FBI why we ran it. However, the FBI controls the system, and they can audit it. We are then in a stalemate.”
The FBI can’t ask and Oller can’t disclose because of Missouri state law.
The protection was motivated after the ATF audited the Department of Revenue and every single name and address of every CCW holder in the state, according to Oller.
That prompted the state to take away the databases from the Department of Revenue and made it the responsibility of the sheriff departments.
“It said no one needs to see you have a CCW permit,” Oller said.
Seven sheriff’s offices in the state have received notices from the FBI that they were going to audit criminal histories including CCW.
“No, as sheriffs under state law, we aren’t telling you that,” Oller said, noting if he had been audited, he would have held firm. “We would have sat down and talked and if they wanted to talk about anything CCW related or ask who a CCW holder in the state of Missouri is, they would have been told to ‘Go kick rocks.’
“It’s better not to deal with it, but it would have been a pretty short conversation.”
Oller stands firm on his obligation to not just protect his constituency against crime, but also behind the scenes.
“I am willing to play along until I am asked to do something that’s illegal,” Oller said. “The State of Missouri made it clear that those records are absolutely closed. I am not a servant of the federal government, but the state of Missouri and Audrain County.
“The law of the land has said more than once that anything firearms-related other than commerce is a state’s rights issue, and they can regulate however they say fit to a degree.”
Oller noted the FBI could reply to a denial of access by not allowing an office access to CJIS, but information could still be obtained through working with the highway patrol via state statute.
“That would be a tough road to hoe,” Oller said. “We need to have access to it, to do our jobs.
“Either way it goes, I will have access to the system.”
If someone from Monroe County is pulled over in Mexico, Audrain law enforcement and a CCW permit is presented, they can’t confirm if it’s valid. A call to Monroe County would have to happen in order to prove its validity.
“It’s locked down that tight,” Oller said. “The federal government doesn’t have a right to see your personal business. It serves no purpose to the federal government at all on the state level.”
Oller said unless someone is being investigated for a crime, he can offer CCW permit information to another investigating body.
“Whenever it looks like the government is fixing to violate the constitution, I am out – I am not going to help you do that,” Oller said.