Now that Laurel’s hiring policies have been deemed “fundamentally sound,” a mediation company tapped by the city to look into a hiring complaint will now analyze whether those policies have been appropriately followed.
Laurel hired the Annapolis-based mediation company The Platt Group Inc. in April after former Laurel police captain Carl DeWalt claimed the police department made an inappropriate civilian hire in January and that the decision amounted to nepotism.
The first half of the Platt Group’s investigation examined the city’s documented hiring procedures and evaluated testimony from Laurel employees, said Platt Group founder Steven Platt, a retired Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge.
“The City of Laurel’s hiring policies, protocol and practices are state of the art, fundamentally sound, and are generally administered by the Mayor, City Administrator, Human Resource Office and Department Heads in a fair and efficient manner,” stated the Platt Group’s report, which was delivered to the city on July 21.
Platt, who is handling the mediation, said he will now launch a second investigation into the specific accusations DeWalt made and determine whether Laurel’s hiring procedures were followed in the case in question.
DeWalt, who was with the Laurel police department for 28 years before retiring in 2013, said he was involved in several cases tried before Platt while working for the department and is confident that Platt’s investigation will be thorough and unbiased.
“I have the upmost respect for [Platt],” he said. “I think he will do a fair job of it.”
Platt held a private meeting with DeWalt on July 23 as the first step in investigating his claims.
“It was very helpful and productive,” Platt said after the meeting. “We talked about his concerns and we talked about the information he has. Because of the information he gave me, I’ve got some work to do.”
Platt said he gave Laurel a discounted rate of $300 per hour for his services because of the complexity and length of the investigation, with a maximum total charge of $9,000, and hopes to finish his second investigation in 90 days.
Laurel Mayor Craig Moe said he will work with the City Council to enact Platt’s recommendations from the first part of the investigation, which involved changing the name of the city’s “nepotism” policy to “anti-nepotism” policy, and refining the wording of that policy.
“I look forward to the Platt Group moving forward and completing phase two of the investigation,” Moe said.