Austin police sergeant fired for lying about SXSW overtime

FILE - Austin Police Department Headquarters (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Austin Police Department Headquarters (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin Police Department sergeant is accused of repeatedly deceiving his superiors when he claimed to be taking a family vacation and was actually working overtime at South by Southwest.

Sgt. Richard Davis was fired by Interim Chief of Police Brian Manley on Friday, according to a police department disciplinary memo.

On Jan. 27, 2017, Davis emailed his Special Response Team (SRT) platoon leader that he would be unavailable to work South by Southwest on March 17-18.

Davis said he would be out of town with his family for spring break from March 12-18. On March 17, however, an Austin police commander and the platoon leader saw Davis working downtown on a private, secondary-employment contract for the SXSW Safety Team, the memo continues.

Chief Manley says Davis in fact worked several days during South by Southwest, working at least 80 overtime hours from March 12-18 as part of his Law Enforcement Related Employment (LERE).

Days after listing his home for sale on Jan. 10 — and canceling his family’s spring break plans — the memo states Davis signed up for overtime shifts during the festival and asked to be notified if any more opened up.

On Feb. 19, he sent an email to a superior that he would not be available to work SRT during the festival. He would ultimately work 80 hours during SXSW week, while policy limits offers to 76 working hours in a week unless they get approval from a commander.

After realizing his supervisors had seen him working overtime, the memo says Davis emailed his superior with his intention to resign from the team in early April, but was removed by a commander in March.

Shortly after being removed, Davis told his commander in an email that he was supplementing the income of someone — redacted in the official memo — who was recently diagnosed with cancer and was living on a fixed income.

The memo states Davis told internal affairs that he planned to go on vacation all along, and consequently was lying to his platoon leader when he asked for more OT slots. APD policy says a single sustained violation for dishonesty warrants an indefinite suspension.

According to the memo, Davis lied frequently to internal investigators and his superiors in regard to his plans for SXSW week. Instead of taking responsibility by telling the truth, Chief Manley says Davis chose to continuously offer “exculpatory evidence… [that] corroborated his deception” — giving Manley no choice but to fire him.

Davis has 10 days to appeal the firing starting from his receipt of the memo.

Employee records show Davis joined the department in December 2003.

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