Former police chief in Maryland defends process for hiring ex-Dover officer

CAMDEN — A former Greensboro, Maryland police chief refuted claims Wednesday that an inadequate work history was submitted during the hiring process for former Dover officer Thomas W. Webster IV.

Mike Petyo, now a Camden Police lieutenant, said the apparent 29 use-of-force reports included incidents of a various hands-on nature and no infractions were detected by Dover Police.

Thus, he said, the information was not provided to Maryland officials during the certification process.

“I am comfortable and confident in what was presented,” Lt. Petyo said.

While Lt. Petyo said that while he was unsure of Dover’s specific policy, he maintained no citizen complaints were included. He said the officer apparently followed standard procedure by filling out the reports.

“There were no Internal Affairs complaints that were detrimental to the hiring process or investigations that were sustained,” he said.

Mr. Webster was granted provisional certification in January 2018, and was granted full powers in May.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said Tuesday it was reviewing the situation involving Mr. Webster’s hiring process to join the Greensboro PD. The agency first learned of the unsubmitted use of force reports issue from a published media story,

“Our agency (was not) aware of the (other reports),” according to Public Safety spokesman Gerard Shields, who said a review is ongoing and “(the agency) will present the information to our Maryland Police Training Standards Commission.”

According to Lt. Petyo, all relevant information was submitted to Maryland officials as required.

“A comprehensive and thorough background check was conducted (prior to the hire) and Officer Webster passed all certification tests,” Lt. Petyo said.

Maryland State Police confirmed Tuesday that a criminal investigation remains open and currently under review by the Caroline County State’s Attorney.

A Dover Police spokesman declined comment Wednesday, citing a severance agreement between Mr. Webster.

The officer was acquitted of a second-degree assault charge in 2015 after Dover Police dashcam video showed him breaking a suspect’s jaw with a kick during an apprehension two years earlier. The incident was reported to Maryland officials during the application process to join the Greensboro force.

On Sept. 15, 2018 in Greensboro, Mr. Webster was involved in an apprehension that was followed by Anton Milbert L. Black’s death. He is currently on paid administrative leave with modified duties on a three-member force, Town Manager Jeannette DeLude said Tuesday and is not currently on patrol duty.

Lt. Petyo indicated that his move to Camden from Greensboro was unrelated to the incident involving Mr. Black or the hiring process, though he understood why the timing might be questioned.

“Lt. Petyo has expressed a desire to work for the Camden Police Department for many years actually,” Camden Police Chief Marcus Whitney said Wednesday.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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