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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hayward Fire Chief Garrett Contreras Suspended For Repeatedly Driving City Vehicles DUI Keeps His Job

Suspended For DUI Calif. Chief Keeps White Helmet

The Hayward fire chief has been spared his job despite serving a one-month suspension earlier this year for repeatedly driving city vehicles while under the influence of alcohol, fighting with a subordinate and failing to respond to a "significant" fire while on call, an investigation found.

Hayward Fire Chief Garrett Contreras
Hayward Fire Chief Garrett Contreras

Hayward Fire Chief Garrett Contreras, 41, was suspended without pay from June 13 to July 12 and had his pay docked by 9 percent as a result of an investigation that found he drove city vehicles while under the influence on at least four occasions, according to a letter written to the chief by City Manager Fran David.

David wrote that the findings "clearly warrant your removal as chief," but she allowed him to remain in his position because of his "honesty during the investigation."

Contreras did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The city manager ordered Contreras not to take any city vehicles home for one year, barred him from drinking alcohol while in uniform and from driving a city vehicle within eight hours of consuming alcohol.

The investigation found that Contreras had driven city vehicles while under the influence on at least four occasions in March, April, July and September of last year. The chief also "initiated a physical fight" with a subordinate firefighter in March 2014, the probe found.

"The investigation revealed that at the end of that incident, you made a vaguely threatening statement to (the firefighter) about his career at Hayward," David wrote.

That night, the chief drank alcohol while serving as the on-call commander and failed to respond to a "significant" fire, the investigation found.

At a golf tournament in September 2014, the chief consumed several alcoholic beverages and "began speaking loudly and inappropriately" to someone, which was noticed by several people in attendance, David wrote.

"This conduct is not what I expect from a chief," David wrote. "Your failure of leadership has embarrassed the city and your department and violates the very command and control structure on which your operations depend."

HENRY K. LEE ON AUG 4, 2015 
Henry K. Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @henryklee

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