A civilian employee of the Baltimore Police Department was fired after a background investigation failed to turn up a past gun charge and the employee was identified as a “person of interest” in a homicide investigation, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Wednesday.
The incident prompted Mayor Brandon Scott to call for a “comprehensive review of BPD’s civilian hiring practices,” just a week after his administration and Harrison announced plans to expand the number of civilians within a department that has struggled to hire enough new officers.
Scott said Wednesday that he wants to “ensure we hire only eligible and qualified candidates to fill these critical positions in city government.” He has asked the city’s chief human capital Officer, Quinton Herbert, “to perform a comprehensive review of BPD’s civilian hiring practices and submit recommendations to improve their policies and procedures.”
The department identified the employee as Dana Lamar Antonio Hayes Jr. and said he was hired April 11.
Harrison said Hayes has not been named as a suspect and no warrant had been filed for his arrest. He would not say which homicide the investigation related to.
“It’s an ongoing investigation, but it is a person of interest,” Harrison said.
Hayes worked as the chief of fiscal services and was terminated effective Tuesday, Harrison said.
Hayes could not be reached for comment. A family member reached at an address listed for Hayes told The Baltimore Sun she did not believe he could be involved in a homicide. She said Hayes is a hard worker and was excited about his new job with the Baltimore Police Department.
“Whatever they’re fishing for, they’re messing with the wrong man,” said the family member, who asked not to be identified out of concerns the police may retaliate against her.
Harrison confirmed that the former employee is listed on the city’s gun offender registry and has been since before he was hired.
“He either was arrested or was in the process of being on the gun offender registry,” Harrison said.
”There was a background investigation done, and the HR department did a background investigation,” he said. “It was missed.”
Harrison said the ongoing homicide investigation is unrelated to the arrest that put Hayes on the gun offender registry.
Police arrested Hayes in December 2018 on multiple gun charges, including possession of a stolen firearm, according to court documents obtained by The Sun. Officers were responding to a report of a large fight in the 200 block of W. Saratoga Street when a CitiWatch employee, monitoring the situation through a CCTV feed, told police they saw a person get into a car with a gun.
Police pulled the car over and found the gun at Hayes’ feet, according to court papers. The gun, a Glock pistol, was reported stolen out of Pennsylvania earlier that year, police wrote.
Asked about the gun charges, Hayes’ family member said those had been resolved and expunged from his record. The charges are no longer listed in online court documents, and the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office did not respond Wednesday to questions about the status of the case.
Hayes’ family member expressed dismay about the Baltimore Police Department firing him for the gun charges after he originally passed the background check.
“It doesn’t make no sense,” she said. “They hire you then fire you?”
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Police searched Hayes’ home earlier Wednesday and seized several of his possessions, including his phone and wallet, his family member said.
As the chief of fiscal services, Hayes would have served under the director of fiscal services and the department’s chief financial officer, who serve under Deputy Commissioner James Gillis, who oversees the department’s Administration Bureau.
Last week, the police department announced plans to be among the first agencies in the country to hire civilians to investigate low-level crimes, internal affairs complaints, cold cases and conduct background checks.
Scott and Harrison said the addition of civilian positions would help improve clearance rates and deter crime by freeing up sworn officers for patrol and other functions that require officers who carry weapons and have arrest powers.
The push for more civilians in the department comes as Baltimore and departments across the country have struggled to recruit and retain police officers. Baltimore continues to wrestle with stubbornly high levels of gun violence as its police department is tasked with implementing broad reforms mandated under a federal consent decree.
Harrison said the new civilian positions will require background investigations “but allow us to hire at a much faster pace.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Alex Mann contributed to this article.