San Antonio city officials Jan. 3 announced Fire Chief Charles Hood’s retirement after investigators explored city employees’ claims that Hood made questionable remarks on the job.

What happened

City Manager Erik Walsh issued a statement, saying an internal investigation confirmed Hood made “inappropriate and offensive comments” in violation of the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity administrative directive, San Antonio Fire Department rules and regulations, and “contrary to the city's expectations of him as a leader of the department.”

Walsh said the city engaged attorney Rick Garza, with the law firm of Jackson Walker, to conduct the investigation upon learning of inappropriate comments repeatedly made by Hood, who was San Antonio's first Black fire chief and who had overseen the fire department since April 2007.

Digging deeper

According to a document issued by the city attorney’s office, Garza and his colleagues interviewed eight city employees in late December as a result of a November report containing alleged “inappropriate comments by fire command personnel.”

Investigators determined Hood uttered a phrase that includes a derogatory term describing part of a woman’s anatomy in the presence of colleagues.

“Chief Hood admitted to making the comments. His comments are vulgar, demeaning and disrespectful to women. They are disruptive to professional operations of the department. This conduct will not be tolerated,” Walsh said.

According to the city attorney’s summary, Hood said he never said the phrase to fellow commanders. However, Garza and his team concluded Hood engaged in inappropriate workplace behavior and violated SAFD guidelines overseeing conduct, behavior and public image.

What’s next

Walsh said Deputy Chief Christopher Monestier will lead the fire department while the city begins a nationwide search for its next permanent fire chief, a search that will include internal applicants. Walsh also said he will meet with SAFD command staff this week and name an interim fire chief by mid-January.

What they’re saying

District 9 City Council Member John Courage posted a statement on his social media channels, saying he was shocked and dismayed by Hood’s remarks.

“The comments are inexcusable and disrespectful, and there is no tolerance for such behavior within the organization, especially for someone in a leadership position,” Courage stated.