Background check procedures at Montgomery Co.’s Department of Recreation get closer look

While Montgomery County’s Department of Recreation carries out required criminal background checks on its employees, the department lacks formal policies regarding those records, according to a report from the county’s inspector general.

Inspector General Megan Davey Limarzi told WTOP that the department carries out the required checks, but the department “does not have a formal policy concerning the retention and destruction of criminal history information and related hiring records,” according to the report.

“There are a number of employees previously fingerprinted by (the Department of) Recreation who still appear on Recreation’s current list” with Maryland’s Criminal Justice Investigation Services, Limarzi said. That means that any notification of an arrest in Maryland is sent to the recreation department.

“What we saw was the list had over 20,000 names on it. Certainly recreation doesn’t have that many individuals still,” Limarzi said.

“There are employees — former employees, or just individuals who applied, who are still being monitored.”

Nearly 94% of the department’s employees include temporary seasonal workers involved in programming for children, senior citizens and “vulnerable populations.”

The report noted that the department’s policy regarding background checks is in draft form, and that hasn’t been formalized since it was drawn up in 2004. The OIG’s research also showed that there’s no written policy regarding continued monitoring or reinvestigation of employees.

The OIG report lists a number of recommendations including:

  • Formalizing the background investigating policy on an expedited basis.
  • Developing a formal policy tied to the destruction and retention of criminal background information and hiring records
  • Providing training to administrative staff on policy requirements for processing information received from CJIS
  • Establishing a process for individuals to appeal the accuracy of their criminal history information.

In the response to the OIG report, Rich Madaleno, the chief administrative officer for Montgomery County, wrote that the department “takes very seriously its obligations to ensure that its employees providing these services undergo all required criminal background investigations.”

Madaleno wrote that the county “concurs” with the findings and recommendations, and that the Department of Recreation will “take appropriate actions to further strengthen the existing controls and processes as noted in the report.”

The report focused on the period from November 2021 to March 2022.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up