News of Muscadin’s resignation informed reached the public last Friday. She was set to resume her duties as OPO director on Monday after nine months of maternity leave, which started at the beginning of 2022.
Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk informed the mayor and council of the development in a memo on September 23.
“You may recall, Farah gave birth to a healthy baby boy in January 2022. While on leave, Farah has made the decision to focus on growing her family while also caring for her elderly parents who live out of state,” Cronk said.
“Under Farah’s leadership, the City’s Office of Police Oversight increased its commitment to transparency, accountability, and community focused oversight.”
He added that Sylvia Hardman “will continue to serve as the Acting Director while we launch a national search for a new director.”
The period of leave began shortly after a third-party arbitrator sided against her and the OPO, ruling that the office overstepped its authority set forth in the city police’s labor contract.
“Contrary to the city’s claim, Director Muscadin was not acting within the scope of her authority…[she] clearly was seeking to dictate some future outcome rather than simply making a recommendation,” the arbitrator ruled last December.
Muscadin’s tenure at the OPO has been marked by quarrels with the Austin Police Department, the police union, and even some of her former employees. She also was at the tip of the spear in the city’s efforts to “reimagine” the way it polices, serving as one of the city officials on the Reimaging Public Safety Task Force.
Next year, Austin voters will decide on a proposal to strengthen the oversight powers of the OPO — a result of a “reimagine policing” activist’s displeasure with the limitations currently in place on the department. Rather than pass it outright, the Austin City Council voted to send the proposition to the May 2023 ballot, a decision that chafed one of the activists and caused him to lash out at Mayor Steve Adler on social media.
Even if passed, the provision’s congruence with state law is an open question that would surely be met with legal action.
The City of Austin has neither provided a copy of Muscadin’s resignation letter as of publishing nor has it disclosed how much Muscadin received during her maternity leave. During her time as OPO director Muscadin’s salary was $157,393, per the city.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.