Baltimore Sun

Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks hired employee with federal conviction, inspector general says

- By Cassidy Jensen

The Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks hired an employee with a federal conviction without telling the city’s Department of Human Resources, Baltimore’s inspector general said in a synopsis report released late last month.

Initiated by complaints about personnel practices in BCRP between late 2019 and early 2021, the investigat­ion by Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming shows that the department discovered a federal conviction during an applicant’s background check that the city’s human resources department had failed to flag in its own screening.

“According to a DHR Executive, the vendor who conducts background checks only performs federal background checks at the hiring agency’s request,” Cumming’s report said.

The synopsis from Baltimore’s city watchdog for financial waste, fraud and abuse did not name the employee.

Although Baltimore City Recreation and Parks Director Reginald Moore has the final say on new hires, DHR would have convened a panel and issued a recommenda­tion on the hiring had the agency been told, the report said.

The inspector general recommende­d the two agencies standardiz­e their hiring processes.

Recreation and Parks and Human Resources are not the only city agencies whose hiring processes have recently come under scrutiny. In April, Mayor Brandon Scott called for a review of the Baltimore Police Department’s civilian hiring practices after the police department fired an employee after a background check missed a gun charge and the man’s status as a “person of interest” in a homicide investigat­ion. The police department’s former chief of fiscal services Dana Hayes was later indicted on wire fraud charges relating to COVID-19 relief funds.

Cumming’s investigat­ion into hiring processes at the BCRP and DHR also found that a policy requiring that Baltimore City residents be prioritize­d when hiring for city roles might conflict with Maryland law.

The policy, which DHR told the inspector general had not been enforced since the 1990s, requires agencies to seek approval from the mayor to hire a non-city resident using a form.

However, a 2018 Maryland law prohibits residency requiremen­ts for hiring, except for those in at-will supervisor­y roles that report directly to the head of a unit within a municipali­ty. Cumming recommende­d in her report that Human Resources update hiring policies related to the residency preference.

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