After six people were shot by an Uber driver Feb. 21 in Kalamzoo, Michigan, Uber has recently received criticism for their background checks on their drivers not being secure.
Jason Dalton, the alleged shooter, had passed the Uber background check without any implications of a criminal history. The shootings occurred over the span of six hours, some of them in between picking up riders through Uber, according to CNN.
The applicant’s information is then dated back seven years to different criminal court records at the local, county and federal levels, according to an article published by CNN Feb. 22.
Because of this recent shooting and other drivers who have been found with a criminal record after passing the background check, Uber has had to defend their background check process, according to Forbes magazine.
“None of the things that we did do in this case, if we made them somehow better, would have made any difference,” said Joe Sullivan, chief security officer for Uber, in an interview with CNN. “There were no red flags, if you will, that we could anticipate things like this.”
During the winter break, Jackson Hern, a sophomore studying communication, became the first Uber driver available in Rexburg.
“Uber has a very extensive background check process,” Hern said. “My process, it literally took me a lot longer than it takes the average person, just because I served a two-year mission randomly out of the state of Idaho, so that kind of raised a lot of red flags.”
Uber looks for any criminal history that would raise a red flag during the hiring pocess. Dalton had no previous criminal history, according to CNN.
“Past behaviors cannot accurately predict future behavior, and because of that, Uber did everything within their power to make sure that their drivers are clean, trustworthy people,” Hern said.
To ensure the safety of their drivers, Uber has a rating system on their app that allows riders to rate their driver on a zero to five scale. Hern said if the rating gets below a certain number, the driver is no longer allowed to work for Uber. Dalton’s rating was 4.73, on the higher end of the scale, according to CNN.
“I was surprised at how thorough it was,” Hern said. “I was amazed. I didn’t expect them to be this thorough. I think it’s something they need to do because you’re getting in an unknown person’s car, and you need to rely on a company like Uber to only allow safe drivers to drive people around.”
Uber does not plan on changing its background check process anytime soon, but is in the process of testing a panic button feature, according to CNN. The feature has been implemented in India and Chicago thus far and is aimed at working with local authorities to respond quickly to its use.
“I thought the experience was kind of sketchy because they pick you up in a regular car, and you have no idea who they are, what could happen or if they could take you somewhere,” said Victoria Gregory, a junior studying communication.
After a series of interviews, no motive has been found for the shootings, according to Yahoo News.
Uber is concerned with how this event may effect the likelihood of customers choosing other sources for rides, according to CNN.
“I think that all it takes is somebody to go crazy, to hurt a company and their image, so I don’t think that I would take it by myself,” Gregory said. “I would make sure that I was with somebody because you have no idea what could happen.”
Hern remains optimistic that the company will be just fine.
“I have met incredible people working for Uber,” Hern said. “I have met people that I would’ve never met in any other way.”
Hern said he will continue to work for Uber and enjoy the experience it has been for him.
“I’ve met kids that are going to middle school that needed a ride to the library,” Hern said. “I have met corporate owners of companies that needed a ride to the airport. I have met people that wanted to have fun on a Friday night at the bar, and I have seen just incredible people, and it’s been a great experience for me.”
Uber is an app that allows users to connect with local drivers to pick them up for rides.
Uber background checks require applicants to provide their name, Social Security number, address, insurance information, driver’s license and bank account number.