AUSTIN – Texans who board evacuation buses during hurricanes or other emergencies must now submit to criminal background checks, the state’s emergency management director said.
The policy is an effort to keep sex offenders and fugitives from boarding evacuation buses with children, the elderly and the disabled, Jack Colley, the chief of the state’s Division of Emergency Management, told The Houston Chronicle, which posted the article on its Web site Saturday.
Mr. Colley said that sex offenders or other criminals would be evacuated on different buses. “We’re not going to leave anyone,” he said.
The intent, he said, is to make sure that vulnerable residents are not victimized.
Mr. Colley also said that state officials would be able to segregate evacuees, even in the chaos of an emergency. “We’ll have procedures,” he said, “and we’re not going to advertise what they are.”
Under the plan, anyone who boards must provide a name. Officials can ask for photo identification, but it is not needed to board, Mr. Colley said.
Officials will check names against sex offender registries and other criminal databases, Mr. Colley said.
After Hurricane Katrina, about 1,700 parolees did not check in with the authorities in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.