Uber defends background checks after Michigan shooting spree

Uber defends background checks after Michigan shooting spree
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Officials with Uber defended its background check system on Monday, after a weekend shooting spree allegedly perpetrated by a driver for the service claimed the lives of six people.

Joe Sullivan, the company’s chief security officer, said the company’s system for investigating whether drivers have criminal histories was thorough.

“It’s a very comprehensive process," he said on a call with reporters, adding later, "Ultimately, when it comes to understanding what criminal record someone has, we think that we do a very good job.”

He also pushed back on the idea that using a system that requires fingerprinting drivers would do a better job of screening for potential bad actors.

The ride-hailing giant held the call after several media outlets raised questions about whether the alleged shooting might hint at a failing in the background check system for drivers.

Police allege Jason Dalton, the driver, killed six people and injured two more in Kalamazoo, Mich., over the course of hours on Saturday. Authorities were reportedly investigating whether he took fares from Uber during the spree. He was charged with murder on Monday.

Dalton had no prior criminal record, authorities say, which Uber argues would have made it difficult to predict his alleged behavior. Sullivan said “none of the things that we did do in this case, if we had done them any better, would have made a difference."

Uber said on Monday that Dalton had a 4.73 rating in the application, where riders can grade their drivers. He started driving for the company in late January.

And those on the call suggested that there were limits to what could be predicted through a background check.

“A background check is just that,” said Ed Davis, a former Boston police commissioner who serves on Uber’s safety advisory board. “It’s a background check, it does not foresee the future, and if there’s nothing in the background, then you have what you have.”

Uber has faced scrutiny for its safety practices before. The company recently reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit over the way it advertised the safety of the platform.