The Real Reason Behind James Hawley's Retirement From EMS?

Assistant chief quit amid APD investigation

Photo of James Hawley included in ATCEMS Chief Ernesto Rodriguez's Feb. 7 email announcing Hawley's retirement
Photo of James Hawley included in ATCEMS Chief Ernesto Rodriguez's Feb. 7 email announcing Hawley's retirement

James Hawley’s early February retirement from Austin/Travis County EMS was not as clear-cut as it initially seemed. Turns out, the former assistant chief was under investigation at the time by the Austin Police Department, for two incidents involving physical misconduct and harassment against two female colleagues.

This can be confirmed thanks to a bevy of documents sent our way by ATCEMS’s Public Information Office that detail a four-month investigation by APD’s Internal Affairs unit, which typically handles administrative investigations at only APD but investigated Hawley because his role on ATCEMS’s executive staff put him over that department’s Office of Professional Conduct in rank. Since it was administrative, the investigation closed with no ruling when Hawley retired.

The .zip file sent over includes 28 different documents, so we’ll be combing through it over the weekend. But the incidents investigated included:

One case in which Hawley was taking part in a tower climbing drill and stuck his head into the rear-end of a woman who was above him on the tower.

Another details a time he used “threatening” and “confrontational” language toward a woman, shut an office door so that he could continue their conversation in private, and, after ending the conversation and reopening the door, “stood very close” to the woman as she tried to pass through and “started to crumple [a piece of] paper in his hand in front of his chest, which was close to my face due to his height, and then proceeded to tell me, ‘If people were trying to change’” an issue pertaining to scheduling, “‘it would make me mad too.’”

Current and former ATCEMS medics have spent much of the past month relaying to me other allegations made against Hawley since he joined the department in September of 1993. ATCEMS Chief Ernie Rodriguez informed medics via email of Hawley’s retirement on Feb. 7. He praised Hawley for his role in “many important efforts. A complete list is much too long to include in this message,” Rodriguez said, but did single out seven initiatives Hawley played a part in.

Asked on Feb. 9 why he commended Hawley’s work despite knowledge of the recently concluded investigation, Rodriguez did not respond. The department issued a statement with the .zip file saying that it is “committed to maintaining a culture of integrity throughout the department.” The department said Hawley was granted a leave of absence just before being placed on administrative leave, and retired during that time.

The city’s Public Safety Commission plans to take up the issue of professional harassment by executive staff at its Monday meeting at City Hall. See next week’s issue for more.

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EMS, James Hawley, Ernie Rodriguez, ATCEMS, APD, Internal Affairs

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