After one resident’s allegations of nepotism and questionable hiring procedures, Laurel officials enlisted the help of retired judge to investigate the city’s employment policies.
Carl DeWalt, a former Laurel police captain who has lived in the city for around 30 years, challenged the qualifications of a new Laurel Police Department employee during a City Council meeting on Feb. 10, saying the January hire amounted to nepotism.
“It falls into the field of public corruption,” he said.
Laurel mayor Craig Moe and City Council president Fred Smalls objected to DeWalt’s presentation during the meeting and Moe later said he believed the accusations were broad and unfounded.
“My administration has always been open. It’s been transparent and in our hiring process we follow the law,” Moe said. “I feel confident that we didn’t break any laws or any policies or anything else.”
Mike Green, Laurel’s deputy director of budget and personnel services, declined to comment on the issue or give specific information about the hiring process, saying it was a personnel matter.
While Moe said he believes the city’s employment policies are consistent with the law, he said the seriousness of DeWalt’s claims warranted an investigation.
In a letter addressed to DeWalt on April 14, Moe stated that he hired The Platt Group, Inc. to review the city’s hiring process as well as DeWalt’s statements, and that the investigation will culminate in a detailed report in approximately 90 days.
DeWalt, who said he has multiple documents to verify his statements, said he is consulting two lawyers and plans to fully cooperate with the investigation.
The Annapolis-based Platt Group is a community mediation organization founded by former Prince George’s County circuit court judge Steven Platt in 2007. Platt said his company has handled a variety of cases related to employment disputes for both government agencies and private companies. Platt said he will personally handle Laurel’s case and will meet with the parties involved and examine city policies. “We will look at [the city’s] procedures, the ones that are in writing and any procedures that are habit or protocol,” he said. “We will see if they follow their own rules, and if they didn’t, why not. I will certainly make findings, and if I have recommendations, I should make them and I will.”