An Austin Fire Department lieutenant has retired amid allegations that he secretly set up recording equipment in a women's locker room at a fire station, according to KVUE's and the Austin American-Statesman's Tony Plohetski.
The man has not been charged, but is under an on-going criminal investigation by the Austin police special investigations unit which handles potential crimes involving public employees. Officials will not say which fire station the incident allegedly happened at and they would not identify the lieutenant since he has not been charged. The department has about 100 firefighters at his rank.
But because he is retired, he will receive his full benefits and pension. Investigators said they are considering possible charges of improper photography, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years behind bars.
In a statement to Plohetski, AFD said "Chief Kerr, as a female fire chief and female firefighter, would say any allegation that specifically involves a female member of our department causes her additional concern."
President Bob Nicks said the department's firefighters want an inclusive environment in a profession that has been male dominated for decades. The union also said what is alleged is not a pervasive issue in the fire department, where women make up just 7 percent of the firefighters. That percentage is more than twice the national average.
According to AFD, most of the city's 46 fire stations have areas designated for female firefighters, and those that do not yet have such facilities are in the final phases of adding them.