Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Maryland State Employees Demand Safer Protocols After Parole Agent Death – Baltimore Sun

By meerna Jun12,2024

The union representing state employees released a list of demands Tuesday for improved security protocol at the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services following the murder last month of a probation officer who was on a home visit.

“We are here today because the people disobeyed and one of our brothers fell,” Patrick Moran, president of the Maryland chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) said at a rally of more than 100 union members outside the courthouse in Catonsville.

The union representing probation and parole officers and other employees of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has issued a list of 11 demands addressed to the management of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, focusing on improving and negotiating the agency’s security procedures. These include visits to virtual offices for probation officers and parole officers until security rules are introduced in their offices; appropriate equipment, including personally fitted bulletproof vests; increased staffing levels so that home visits can be conducted in pairs; access to mental health services; and a third-party investigation into the agent’s death.

On May 31, 33-year-old parole agent and probation officer Davis Martinez was found dead in the Chevy Chase apartment of Emanuel E. Sewell, a registered sex offender. Sewell was charged with second-degree murder in Martinez’s death.

Agents assigned to Sewell before Martinez documented concerns about his behavior.

The Montgomery County Police Department is investigating the murder and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services is conducting an internal investigation.

Union members are demanding that all home visits be conducted virtually until agency officials meet with AFSCME to negotiate a new home visit policy. Moran said the Moore administration was “committed” to meeting to discuss political and procedural reform.

The union had been calling for radical changes at the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services long before Martinez’s death in Montgomery County late last month.

AFSCME Local 3661 President Rayneika Robinson, a probation and parole officer, said Tuesday that the first of six corrections labor leadership meetings was held in April 2023. During the meeting, staff told Carolyn J. Scruggs, secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, about health and safety issues they face in the field and provided her with two brochures full of emails and documentation of complaints that employees had filed regarding Director of Parole and Probation Martha L. Danner and Deputy Executive Director Walter E. .Nolley.

An additional five meetings were held in September 2023 and in January, February, March and April 2024.

“Our concerns were ignored,” Robinson said.

“These fears ‘became our reality’ the day Martinez died,” Robinson continued. “We didn’t have to wait for this tragedy for our concerns to finally be heard.”

Danner and Nolley were removed from their positions on Friday. Despite calls from AFSCME last week, Scruggs remains in his position. The union continues to demand the removal of the secretary.

“This tragedy could have been prevented if the agency had listened to our numerous attempts to discuss health and safety issues with a high caseload,” Robinson said.

AFSCME mourns Martinez, who was an agent for six years. Last week, members organized a balloon release in his honor in Montgomery County. Tuesday’s rally began with a minute of silence.

His funeral will be June 22 in Silver Spring. The governor issued an order that the Maryland state flag be flown at half-staff in Martinez’s honor until the day of his burial.

“We will not forget Agent Martinez,” Moran said. “We can’t do this. We won’t do this.”

By meerna

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