New Canaan’s highest elected official said he’s planning to meet Tuesday with police regarding a member of the Parks & Recreation Commission who was arrested last week following a domestic incident.
Jack Hawkins, 45, was arrested May 31 by New Canaan Police and charged with disorderly conduct. A 67-year-old woman, Judy Hawkins, also was charged with the misdemeanor offense following what police called a “domestic dispute” that involved both of them and a third occupant of the Hawkins’ New Norwalk Road home.
Police withheld details, saying it was a domestic matter.
Hawkins was appointed to Parks & Rec in December 2018.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said Hawkins remains a commissioner.
“I think it’s appropriate to give someone due process before anyone makes a decision,” Moynihan said.
Moynihan said he spoke to Hawkins last week.
“This was not a dispute between him and his wife, it was a dispute between his wife and mother, and he intervened,” Moynihan said, citing information provided by Hawkins.
“I feel an obligation to talk to the police to understand what they know before I can make any judgment as to Jack,” Moynihan said.
The first selectman added, “I think I would feel differently if it was his wife rather than his mother. Again I don’t have all the facts. I will not jump to conclusions.”
Asked during a phone interview Monday about his intention with respect to continuing to serve on Commission, Hawkins said, “I don’t see any problem with serving on Parks & Rec. I’m an active user of the parks, and I think each of the members of our Parks & Rec Commission, we come from different angles and all that. I’ve got two young kids. I was just at Waveny this weekend with my son and my daughter, playing soccer, and I just want to keep doing whatever I can to keep our parks nice.”
Moynihan said he’s heard during the past week from Parks & Rec Chair Rona Siegel and others regarding Hawkins’s status on the appointed body.
Asked for her thoughts on Hawkins following the domestic incident, Siegel said, “I think that it’s domestic violence.”
“If I hadn’t had history with the individual—not face-to-face, but the amount of banter back-and-forth that just went on for hours—I would still think the same, that I have zero tolerance for domestic violence, whatever the situation is,” Siegel said. She referred to exchanges on social media last year that involved Hawkins and others, amid discussions in town about installing security cameras at Waveny.
“I have zero tolerance, so I think being on a commission or panel, being a volunteer with the town, you have an ethical code to stand up to and charges have been filed, whether there has been a decision on their validity, the right thing is to step down and let someone step into the role. And if two years down the road, if charges are dropped, that would be something for the Commission to determine at that time. But for sake of the Commission, step down and get yourself together on whatever those charges are.”
Siegel added, “It’s 2021. We don’t do that. I don’t care what the circumstances are.”
Mark Sherman, Hawkins’s criminal defense lawyer, declined to comment on case specifics, but said that his client intervened in an argument between his mother and wife.
“He quickly and successfully de-escalated the situation, and expects the court to resolve the charges quickly,” Sherman said in an email. “It’s shameful that his political adversaries would somehow attempt to weaponize this relatively benign and private family matter.”
It wasn’t clear who Sherman was referring to. He did not immediately respond to an email seeking clarification.
It’s unclear whether Hawkins disclosed a prior arrest to town officials.
Connecticut Judicial Branch records have shown that Hawkins on Feb. 21, 2020, was arrested and charged with second-degree breach of peace and reckless driving. Hawkins pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to appear June 1 in connection with that case. It appears to have been adjudicated since, as the record of the arrest no longer appears in the Connecticut Judicial Branch database.
Details of the misdemeanor charges are unclear, as is the arresting agency. Though it had been listed in a state database as coming from Darien Police, department officials there said that listing was a mistake and that, after talking to the Connecticut Judicial Branch, they found the arrest came out of New Canaan. But New Canaan Police told NewCanaanite.com on Monday that they also have no record of arresting Hawkins last year. NewCanaanite.com then filed a request with Connecticut State Police for an incident report in case CSP had made the arrest, and that request has been forwarded to the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Legal Affairs Department.
Asked whether he had disclosed last year’s arrest, Hawkins said, “I don’t know. Why are you asking me that? Really this is a personal matter.” He said he questioned why this news outlet was pursuing the matter.
Asked whether Hawkins had disclosed last year’s arrest to municipal officials, Moynihan said, “I don’t know that he did or that he is required to.”
Asked whether the town has a policy regarding the status of those serving on public boards and commissioners who are arrested on criminal charges during their tenure, Moynihan said, “I don’t know that there is a policy. You react to the facts of the circumstances.”
The town’s Code of Ethics, which includes guidance for ethics violations for those serving on government boards and commissions, does not appear to address cases of criminal arrests.
It is unclear what discussions Moynihan or others in town leadership roles have already had regarding Hawkins’s seat on Parks & Rec.
It appears that Moynihan and New Canaan Human Resources Director Cheryl Pickering-Jones discussed Hawkins in the days that followed his arrest. When NewCanaanite.com asked Pickering-Jones for a copy of the resume Hawkins submitted to the town at the time of his appointment to Parks & Rec, she forwarded the request to Moynihan. In responding, Moynihan forwarded the resume along with an email thread that included a June 3 note from Pickering-Jones saying, “Kevin, I received this request from Mike Dinan and I am turning it over to you per your instructions from yesterday [June 2].”
Moynihan while expressing his desire to get more facts of Hawkins’s recent arrest said, “Jack is a former police officer. He’s a former military combat veteran. I think people ought to withhold judgment.”
According to the resume, Hawkins worked as a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department from December 2001 to July 2003. According the LAPD Media Relations Division, Hawkins worked there a police officer from January to December 2002.
Asked about the discrepancy, Hawkins said, “After I resigned, I continued going in and working as a non-paid member, but continued until I moved.”
According to his resume, Hawkins served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army and led “U.S. and multi-national units in combat operations, particularly special amphibious and light infantry missions.” The resume cotinued, “Two MEU-SOC deployments (marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable) and awarded two combat campaign medals.”
A records search by the U.S. Army’s Media Relations Division at the Pentagon showed that Hawkins appeared to have service in the Rhode Island Army National Guard and possibly some service time in the Navy Reserve.
According to U.S. Marines Deputy Communications Strategy Officer Yvonne Carlock of Manpower & Reserve Affairs in Quantico, Va., Hawkins’s official military personnel shows that he had no deployments. He served from August 1996 to September 2000, with his last duty assignment in the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in Camp Pendleton, Calif. Hawkins was a corporal and rifleman whose unit/service awards include a Navy Unit Commendation, Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and whose personal awards include a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, according to Carlock.
Asked about the discrepancy regarding deployments, Hawkins said, “I’m kind of surprised that Quantico said no deployments.” He added that “some of my awards are specific to deployments, such as the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Expeditionary Medal.”
According to the town website, Parks & Rec “is charged with promoting long and healthy life styles [sic] through active recreation.” Hawkins’s first meeting as a Parks & Rec commissioner was in January 2019. While serving on the Commission, has spoken out regarding attendance at Kiwanis Park on Old Norwalk Road, helped author recommendations regarding pesticide use and, more recently, has worked with town officials and the Summer Theatre of New Canaan to find a good location for the organization in Waveny for the upcoming season.
Parks & Rec is scheduled to meet Wednesday night.
Hawkins is scheduled to appear July 28 in state Superior Court connection with the domestic incident. He has not yet pleaded, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch records.
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