As Montgomery County Police Department officers combed through an apartment complex in Chevy Chase last month looking for a missing parole agent who was visiting a client there, a voice rang out on the scanner.

“This agent who’s missing had a phone call with this client,” the official said, adding that the information came from a parole and probation department database. “And the client says he didn’t want to be harassed any longer by parole and probation, and he was not going to cooperate.”

That exchange took place on May 31, the same day police found Parole and Probation Division Agent Davis Martinez dead in that client’s apartment and just weeks after Martinez had logged the phone call. Emanuel Edward Sewell has since been arrested and charged in Martinez’s killing.

The scanner chatter contradicts statements made by the state’s public safety chief, Carolyn Scruggs, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, that there were no clear warning signs that Sewell posed a risk to Martinez.

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“Typically, they will assess the situation, and assess the risk. This individual had not shown to pose a risk prior,” Scruggs told reporters at a news conference earlier this month.

It’s unclear whether Scruggs was aware of the entry in the state database prior to her remarks. The corrections department did not answer questions about the apparent contradiction.

The audio recording appears to bolster claims by union officials that department leadership had neglected to address safety concerns raised around threat assessments for parole agents, who routinely show up at the homes of clients alone and unarmed.

“It’s a huge breakdown in operational effectiveness and credibility, when they don’t even bother to open up the case on the individual before they start talking about the situation,” said Patrick Moran, president of AFSCME Maryland Council 3, the largest state employee union, of which Martinez was a member.

For more than a year before Martinez’s death, union reps said they raised alarms with Scruggs and key leaders inside the parole and probation division about inadequate health and safety protocols and sparse staffing coverage that kept them from doubling up for certain home visits. These messages were delivered in person and in multiple emails that Moran said were “ignored” or never followed up on.

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Moran said the department “ignored the warning signs” of danger to their employees, including a red flag raised by at least one of Sewell’s probation agents before Martinez took over the case. Moran called the agency’s repeated lack of response to concerns “an insult to our members and what they endure and what they deal with everyday.”

Martinez’s death spurred a pressure campaign by the union to oust the leadership at the corrections department, causing Scruggs to reshuffle its parole division administration. But the union has continued to press for Scruggs’ resignation.

A supervisor sounds the alarm

Telephone audio also reveals how an agency supervisor alerted Montgomery County Police that they were concerned about Martinez on the afternoon of May 31.

At around 5:46 p.m., a man identified himself to a 911 operator as a field supervisor with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

He said he was concerned for the safety of one of his parole and probation agents who had been conducting a home visit — “based on his itinerary.” The agent was overdue, and his colleagues were unable to reach him.

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In an audio recording obtained by The Baltimore Banner, the supervisor told the operator at the Montgomery County emergency call center he was calling from the Silver Spring branch of the parole and probation division inside the courthouse.

“We’re kind of over concerned about his safety,” he told police.

He added it was “very unlike” Martinez not to follow protocol.

The agency has suspended home visits by probation officers since Martinez’s death. A memorial service for Martinez was held Saturday in Silver Spring.