Austin-Travis County EMS captain suspended over assault: Memo

AUSTIN - Austin-Travis County EMS Field Captain Forrest Nelson was suspended from his position in November after he allegedly assaulted a family member earlier this year, according to a memorandum from ATCEMS Chief Ernesto Rodriguez.

The memo states that Nelson's suspension began Nov. 9 and ends on Jan. 5 -- a period of 30 days that spans 19 shifts.

Chief Rodreguez wrote that Nelson violated Civil Service Commission Rule 10.03, which states that an employee in the service of the City of Austin shall not engage in, or be involved in any of the following acts or conduct:

F. Acts showing lack of good moral character
H. Conduct prejudicial to good order
L. Violation of any rules and regulations of the Fire, Police or EMS Departments, or of special orders, as applicable

According to the memorandum, Nelson was arrested by the Austin Police Department on Aug. 31 for assault causing bodily injury to a family member. Chief Rodriguez states in the memo that from an administrative standpoint, there is a preponderance of evidence to conclude that Nelson committed the assault.

The memorandum includes a portion of the City of Austin EMS Department Code of Conduct:

"All members of the EMS department are public servants and carry a high degree of responsibility. The public holds all public servants to a high level of expectation and perception in all areas of performance and behavior. This is even greater for EMS personnel because they are public safety and health care providers. All personnel are expected to follow all of the City of Austin's ethics policies and to report waste, fraud, abuse, and any behaviors that could negatively impact the public perception of public servants."

In addition to the agreed suspension, Nelson has agreed to the following additional terms and conditions:

1. Nelson shall, at his expense, enroll in an inpatient program.

2. Nelson must successfully complete the inpatient program and provide EMS - Human Resources office with periodic updates confirming his attendance.

3. The inpatient program may be completed during Nelson's suspension time, unless the program extends beyond the suspension days. The Chief may approve the completion of the program beyond the suspension days.

4. Nelson shall be responsible for paying all costs of the inpatient program which are not covered by his health insurance plan.

5. Nelson must also complete a course on anger management prior to returning back to work.

6. The Chief has allowed Nelson to use enough benefit time each pay period to cover the employee's medical coverage during the time of the suspension.

7. If Nelson fails to cooperate with or successfully complete the inpatient program and/or the anger management program, the Chief may, at his sole discretion, indefinitely suspend Nelson without right of appeal to the Civil Service Commission, an Independent Third Party Hearing Examiner, or a District Court. Whether Nelson cooperated with or successfully completed the program(s) is solely within the discretion of the Chief and that decision is not subject to appeal to the Civil Service Commission, an Independent Third Party Hearing Examiner, or District Court.

8. Nelson may not appeal this agree suspension or any of these additional terms and conditions to the Civil Service Commission, and Independent Third Party Hearing Examiner, or District Court.

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