Newly hired St. Mary’s Deputy Director of EMS Stephen Walker lacks any experience in EMS management or services.
Deputy Director was notified immediately of system failure; two hours before baby died in Lexington Park
Walker’s run as police chief marked with controversy
EMS employees threatened with termination for disclosing information to fire and rescue volunteers
LEONARDTOWN, MD. — The Board of St. Mary’s County Commissioners, hired a controversial police chief from a Prince George’s County town to be the deputy director of EMS at an annual salary of $81,806.40 on July 17, 2017, in spite of a lack of any experience in operating an emergency management system or experience in fire and rescue functions in his prior jobs. The EMS 911 center is under the command of Director Robert Kelly, who holds the title of Chief Information Officer at a salary of $134,693.00 and was hired on Oct. 1, 2001.
Walker, in his job as deputy director of EMS, was notified within minutes of a 911 system general failure in St. Mary’s County on Oct. 24, 2017, that led to the death of an infant in Lexington Park. The chief of the Lexington Park Vol. Rescue Squad, Shawn Davidson, said that his squad was not notified of the meltdown of the system or the child in need of help, though a Lexington Park ambulance was only a few blocks away.
The notification to Walker about the system failure was about two hours prior to the death of the baby. A St. Mary’s County news release on the death revealed that Walker, as the notified supervisor, could have ordered an immediate alert to all fire and rescue of the crisis in the 911 system and to be on a top alert status. The county-issued release shows that a radio technician didn’t arrive to work on the system until nearly two hours after the failure was recognized.
The Baynet news site reported that an email from an employee of the 911 center was distributed to various persons outside of the county government, that purportedly states there is a standing policy in place by management of the Emergency Communication Division to the effects of— “Don’t tell the volunteer’s the radios are down.” The email also claims if any emergency communication workers do alert volunteers of a system failure, they could face disciplinary action.
St. Mary’s County employs radio technicians as part of the EMS system, however, the county accounting of the timeline reveals that it took nearly two hours before a technician arrived to troubleshoot the disabled system. Deputy Director Walker, who was immediately notified, according to the statement issued by Director Bob Kelly, lives at Sandgates, which is 12.5 miles from the 911 center, which takes about 18 minutes to transit. Kelly’s statement didn’t reveal if and when Walker arrived at the 911 center during the meltdown.
Walker’s duties as police chief at the town of Edmonston, according to WTOP, included protecting his boss from paying parking tickets and allegedly covering up on-the-job sex by one of the ten police officers under his command.
WTOP, in a series of news articles, also revealed that Walker used a confidential license plate on his police vehicle, a car fully equipped with standard equipment that is easily recognizable as a police car without a light bar or emblems, perhaps to evade red light cameras. Such plates are assigned to investigators for undercover work in organized crime, drug trafficking, and other high-profile crimes, none of which were investigated by the town police force led by Walker.
Walker was a Lieutenant in the Hyattsville Police Department prior to becoming the police chief in the Town of Edmonston, a municipality of 1400 residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland.
A charge of criminal misconduct against Walker for a parking ticket scandal involving the town of Edmonston’s mayor was exposed and reported by WTOP, and apparently didn’t enter into the decision by St. Mary’s County to hire him for a job for which is experience is unknown, making him one of the highest paid county employees. No record of what happened to those criminal charges appears on Maryland court records.
Police chief charged criminally after WTOP investigation
From WTOP May 26, 2015
WASHINGTON — A small town police chief is facing criminal charges after a WTOP investigation uncovered a parking ticket to the mayor went unpaid for more than a year. “Edmonston Residents for Change.” An anonymous member of the group sent fliers around the town calling for Walker’s termination, alleging that he covered up a staff member caught committing sexual acts inside town hall while on-duty and in uniform.
“I support the Chief and find it confusing that his integrity has been challenged with no evidence and allegations made by an anonymous individual. Were the allegations not baseless, I would take them seriously, but I have listened to the Chief address each and find them specious,” writes Pooley.
Walker has kept his job on a narrow 3-2 vote in the council. Councilmembers Sophia E. Layne-Bee and Selita J. Bennett-White have asked some critical questions and believe Walker needs to resign but were unable to get answers or get the votes to oust him. The key tiebreaker vote is Gant, who supports the chief fully.
It’s unclear whether the malfeasance in office charges are exclusively related to the unpaid parking ticket and an alleged cover-up, or whether it includes the allegations in the anonymous flier. MORE
Edmonston Police Chief Steve Walker Keeps Post
Protecting Officials from Paying Parking Tickets & Allegedly Covering Up Office Oral Sex Acts for On-Duty Officer Curried Favor with Town Council
EDMONSTON, Md. — Edmonston Police Chief Stephen E. Walker will keep his job in the town, just weeks after a WTOP investigation into allegations of unethical conduct.
Edmonston Mayor Tracy Farrish Gant, also involved in the investigation, and town attorney Suellen Ferguson announced the decision to support Walker and keep him on the job at a town council meeting on Wednesday evening.
As WTOP reported, Gant did not pay a parking ticket for 410 days and did not incur any late fees, penalties, tows or boots on her car. Walker is accused of voiding the ticket, then reinstating it and having it paid on the same date WTOP began its investigation.
A flier was circulated around the small Prince George’s County town calling for Walker’s termination. It alleged that Walker covered up a staff member caught committing sexual acts inside town hall while on-duty and in uniform.
Town staffers approached and heard from several residents supporting Walker.
“I think Chief Walker has done a good job with integrating the Hispanic community and we support him,” says Edmonston resident Jeinaro Reinoso.
“I’m satisfied with the explanation from the council and the chief and I think we should move on,” he adds, pointing to issues like discrimination, drunken driving, and homelessness.
Ferguson questioned the flier being circulated and told residents that it’s difficult to respond to allegations from anonymous sources. She added that the town did not find evidence to support the allegations.
Gant said that residents can ask her or Walker questions anytime about the incident. She added that the town wants to be transparent, although there are Edmonston residents and town council members who vehemently disagree.
“I thought it was a crock. I think she was just trying to make herself look good in front of everybody because there was a large attendance at the meeting,” says Edmonston resident Donata Bryan.
Bryan also believes Gant got special favors because of her position.
“If it were you or me, we would get the $75 ticket, then a $75 penalty and a $500 fine for an unregistered vehicle on top of that. We would’ve had to pay $650. That’s a lot of money. We wouldn’t have been able to wait 410 days, then pay $75 and be done with it. She did because she’s the mayor,” says Bryan.
She also thinks Chief Walker should have resigned or been fired.
“It’s just bringing more negativity to the town and it’s not going to go away,” she said.
WTOP reported that two members of the Town Council, as well as the radio station, still had unanswered questions:
- What exactly prompted Mayor Tracy Farrish Gant to pay the ticket after 410 days?
- Why didn’t she have to pay late fees on her ticket?
- What police business requires Chief Walker to have confidential license plates?
- Why does Walker have the confidential license plates on a vehicle with two antennas, emergency vehicle lights and a spotlight bulb all visible from the outside?
- What did town officials do to investigate and dismiss the allegations on the flier?
WTOP continues to ask these questions and the town has yet to provide any answers.
DID STEVE WALKER USE CONFIDENTIAL POLICE TAGS
TO AVOID RED LIGHT TICKETS?
WTOP reporter Ari Ashe included this information in a published article about Stephen Walker’s use of a confidential police license plates:
It is also unclear whether authorities will investigate allegations that Walker is misusing untraceable, confidential license plates to evade speed and red-light cameras in Prince George’s County.
According to three police sources with extensive knowledge of the program, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) issues these plates to police departments for officers in unmarked cars involved in sensitive investigations such as narcotics, organized crime or terrorism. Each requested anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the confidential tag program or other police departments.
“It’s not uncommon for these people to check the license plates of all their members to see if they have any cops in their ranks, specifically from our narcotics unit. It’s also not uncommon for people to walk past police stations, write down license plates and check them against those in their organization. We sometimes swap confidential tags on our undercovers several times,” says one source.
“We would use them, for example, on a stakeout. We’re waiting for someone to bust and we may have undercover sedans. We would put confidential tags on them to cover ourselves and then swap them out after the operation is complete,” says the second source.
A third source admitted he has confidential tags on his unmarked police department vehicle and said that his high-profile position makes him a potential target because his officers conduct routine drug raids and other organized crime investigations. He added that departmental cars are subject to reassignment.
But all three police sources also expressed bewilderment about why the Edmonston Police Department would need any confidential tags.
Each pointed out that Edmonston is a very small town, and that any major narcotics, terrorism or organized crime investigation would be outsourced to a larger department such as the Prince George’s County Police, Maryland State Police or FBI. MORE
PETITION ALLEGED THAT CHIEF WALKER COVERED UP ORAL SEX PERFORMED IN POLICE HEADQUARTERS ON UNIFORMED AND ON-DUTY OFFICER
With the workplace being a standard of sexual conduct set by President Bill Clinton and his trysts with his intern, Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office, which led to Clinton’s Impeachment, it appears that many believe they are entitled to the same fringe benefits.
A petition to request the Maryland State Prosecutor to investigate Stephen Walker’s traffic ticket hanky-panky with the Mayor of Edmonston was organized and while some commenters praised Chief Stephen Walker, others called for the Mayor & Council to fire him.
The petition includes the following comments:
Louis Grant HYATTSVILLE, MD over 2 years ago Liked 0
Really??? You honestly think the Maryland State Prosecutor’s Office is going to spend their time investigating a parking ticket? You must have lost your mind. Get a life will ya? I have a business in this town and I have had to ask Chief Walker and his officers for assistance several times over the past few years, and he has always been friendly and responsive. Are you forgetting that the police chief WORKS for the Mayor and Council?
If a town councilmember got a parking ticket and was not forced to pay it, you need to be upset with the Mayor & Council, not the Chief of Police. To say that the police department is corrupt because one councilperson didn’t have to pay the full fine of a single parking ticket is absurd. Police departments adjust and/or lower the fines of parking tickets all the time for one reason or another, big deal. This sounds like some kind of personal gripe with the Chief and is being taken out in the press. If that is true, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Selma Richardson HYATTSVILLE, MD over 2 years ago Liked 0
louis there are probably a lot of helpful and friendly people out there that do inappropriate things don’t let that cloud your judgment on what happened
Edward Page HYATTSVILLE, MD over 2 years ago Liked 0
Leave the Chief alone, and let him do his job. There are people in this town that need to get a life and quit meddling in the affairs of others. These people are not happy unless there constantly stirring up a bunch of shit. If they put some of this energy into keeping their properties up…..the town wouldn’t look like it does. If WTOP would like to talk with me or whoever has a problem with him feel free to contact me anytime……301 277 4699
Barbara Durham HYATTSVILLE, MD over 2 years ago Liked 0
I think the chef should be out of the office and get one that is honest
N A RIVERDALE, MD over 2 years ago Liked 0
Chief S. Walker has always been willing to overlook the bad behavior of those around him, if he likes them. One of his officers received oral sex in the town hall building while the officer was on duty and in uniform. Guess what, Chief Walker concealed the incident and the officer wasn’t terminated or even suspended. Make sure to ask the chief about it at the town meeting. Chief Walker is out of control and needs to be removed
Mohammad Famak HYATTSVILLE, MD over 2 years ago Liked 0
Chief Walker needs to be investigated.
Edmonston residents for change HYATTSVILLE, MD over 2 years ago Liked 0
Residents are taking a stand against corruption. Join the Edmonston Residents for Change on our Facebook page or email email@example.com
Edmonston residents for change HYATTSVILLE, MD over 2 years ago Liked 0
N A over 2 years ago Liked 0
Edward Page what do you mean by letting him do his job. Does that mean spending his days at his desk collecting his paycheck and hoping that his political game is good enough to keep him employed? How could anyone not see a problem with what happened? We would have had to pay the ticket. Just because you happen to like him doesn’t absolve him of his responsibilities to do the right thing.
Donata Bryan HYATTSVILLE, MD over 2 years ago Liked 0
I believe that there should be an investigation and the chief should be fired and the Mayor asked to step down. I have lived in the town for almost 51 yrs. and my father used to be Mayor for a long period of time and my mother councilwoman. There has NEVER been this type of corrupt as it is now. If the shoe was on the other foot, then the residents would not get the same treatment.
The Emails from Lexington Park VRS Chief Shawn Davidson and distributed to county fire and rescue chiefs, as published by the Baynet:
Apparently, this morning the radio system went down; calls where being dispatched and no pagers or firehouse alerts where working. At some point Fireboard knew of the issue (before 0600), there was no notification whatsoever by fireboard advising county stations or volunteers that there was a radio failure or problem that would prevent the pagers and alert from working. I called around and no other Chief Officers were aware this had ever happened with the exception of Chief 39.
At 0636 Stations 3 and 39 and a medic were dispatched to 21627 Liberty Street for a 2-week-old not breathing. They only reason why station 3 responded was because we have Active 911 tied into the station speakers and the call was sent out over Active 911. Station 39 had a duty crew in quarters and the station alerting never went off.
My unit arrived and started CPR, once the 5-minute mark came Station 39 was alerted again along with station 38 and Company 13. Ambulance 139 was dispatched and responded at 0645 and Ambulance 399 responded at 0646. Ambulance 399 did not arrive unit 0650 which is 14 minutes after the initial dispatch. The baby was transported to SMH and was pronounced deceased. Chief 39 called fireboard and was told they were dispatching off of portable radios.
No one can say if the system was operational the baby would have lived but I can say when my unit arrived it was a workable arrest; the baby had color and warmth. A 14-minute arrival after the initial dispatch by the first due ambulance is completely unsatisfactory. This is not LPVRS’ fault whatsoever they had a duty crew so the problem is at ECC and the policies that they operate off of.
After asking around apparently, the standing policy put out by management at ECC is “Don’t tell the Volunteer’s the radios are down”. They were also told they would face disciplinary action if they did notify the volunteer the radios where down. This statement from management was corroborated by 3 different county employees today. This is absolutely unbelievable and disturbing, to say the least. This policy that is either written or verbal caused the county Fire and EMS system to completely fail this morning and definitely make the county liable if this information were to make it to the public.
Radio systems and technology fail it doesn’t matter what brand name or system you use it is going to happen. You can implement all the fail safes you want they can all fail. The easiest one to implement is notification to your County Fire and EMS stations so they can take necessary steps to ensure they don’t miss a call, especially one like a 2-week-old not breathing.
This needs to be addressed at the highest levels in our county and whoever put out the policy should be held responsible. There also needs to be a policy implemented immediately that notifies the county Fire and EMS system there is an issue so again we can take the steps to ensure we don’t miss a call.
I want feedback on what is being done to address these issues as soon as practical or I will circumvent the system in place and take this information directly to the commissioners myself.
Got a call from Chief 39 late last night,
He was speaking with Chief 29 Jessica Vallandingham, one of her members was a dispatcher on duty when the radio failure occurred.
She got off of work yesterday morning and apparently was called back in for a special meeting.
Obviously, ECC management was there and told her that she would be attending a special meeting today October 25th with the county commissioners.
She was told what to say and what not to say and threatened if she said something she wasn’t told to say that she would be punished, to include losing her job, certifications as a dispatcher, and her EMT license.
Chief 39 and 29 further discussed ways to help the Rescue Squad member with legal representation.
I think that if they are having some type of meeting today it would be more than appropriate that Commissioner O’Connor knew these details prior to the meeting.
There seems to be a diligent effort to cover up what has happened by ECC management I wanted to put this on your radar so you can forward it to whom you deem appropriate.