Report: Background checks not performed for some Tampa little league coaches

An audit revealed proper background checks were not performed for coaches for some little leagues in Tampa.

The Tampa City Council says it will now review the 2017 audit, conducted by the Parks and Recreation Department, before deciding what action to take. 

The audit looked at a sampling of 39 coaches. It appears about 30 percent of them were not properly vetted.

"Even if you're not playing, kids are playing on the playground, they're watching their friends play, they're running through the concession stand and they just kind of run free at the park and you want to know that anybody that they're around is a safe individual," said Kimberly Meguiar, whose son plays in the Palma Ceia Little League.

Independent youth baseball leagues use the city facilities and every league that leases a city field is required to have background checks for coaches and volunteers. The city of Tampa says all city employees have received the proper background checks. 

Meguiar has been involved in the background check process in her league and said it can be a time-consuming, but important, process.

"It's incredibly important. We've got 600 kids around that ballpark and it's a large place," she said. "If somebody is going to be around my kid half of the time, I want to make that they're not a predator or that they've never had any kind of a violent crime."

The audit also found at least one league had not properly screened all 101 of its coaches through the FDLE, which is part of the process for every league in Tampa.

The Parks and Rec Department is planning to address the issue by changing its lease agreement when the current one expires in August. Director Paul Dial said, moving forward, the city will be able to deny access to any league that is not in full background check compliance.

"We want to have 100 percent compliance," Dial said. "I'm sure the teams and the organizations want to do the right thing and we do as well and we're just asking for this documentation so that we can make things as safe as we can for our kids."