Austin’s Park Police may be small, but they have big problems

KVUE 24 reported that there is new insight into why the chief of Austin’s Park Police Department decided stepping down. Documents released Friday paint a picture of a small police force with a big personality conflict.

Chief Darryl Lewis’ resignation came on the heels of a critical evaluation of his department, citing problems with training and equipment. But we now know the core problem runs deeper and is more personal.

According to a personnel memo, Lewis was reprimanded in January 2005 for violating city policy. Of the seven allegations of misconduct, three were found to have merit.

The allegations involved Chief Lewis taking his city patrol car to a second job at Whole Foods even though he’s on-call day and night. He was also accused of accepting gifts from his employees, like a model car and an autographed poster, as well as borrowing small amounts of cash from his employees.

Lewis was also cited for allowing a horse trailer to be stored on park property. It belonged to a former officer, who was his landlord.

The complaints were filed by Park Police Sgt. James Hargett. At the time, Hargett was under investigation for alleged drunk driving.

While no court action took place, Hargett’s legal trouble is acknowledged in the 400-page Internal Affairs report.

While Hargett’s motives are questioned, the chief is described as abrasive.

Chief Lewis was pulled over by an Austin police officer in 2004 for running a stop sign. The traffic violation is not part of the Internal Affairs investigation, but it is mentioned in a recent evaluation of Lewis and his department.

The bottom line of the investigation: the small police force had big problems, with the focus squarely on two men who don’t like each other.

Assistant City Manager Rudy Garza said improvements are being made at the Park Police Department.

Chief Lewis is transferring to a new position in the Parks Department later this month.

Hargett is still on the job.

Click here for the full story as reported by Kvue 24

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