Orlando fire chief arrested in North Carolina on assault charges

Benjamin Barksdale currently suspended with pay

Orlando Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale is on paid leave.
Orlando Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale is on paid leave. (WKMG 2021)

Orlando Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale was arrested Tuesday on a warrant out of North Carolina where he is accused of assaulting a woman.

Barksdale has been suspended with pay since the city of Orlando became aware of the warrant which was issued Aug. 16. Deputy Fire Chief Craig Buckley is currently the acting fire chief.

Barksdale was arrested by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina at 8:37 a.m. Tuesday, according to jail records. He is charged with assault and battery and assault on a female.

Details of the alleged encounter were unavailable.

According to the county jail, Barksdale is not listed as an inmate and could have posted bail.

“We have been made aware of a misdemeanor arrest warrant involving Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale in the state of North Carolina. Chief Barksdale has been suspended with pay. In his absence, the acting Fire Chief will be Deputy Fire Chief Craig Buckley,” the city said in a statement on Aug. 16.

Barksdale was announced as Orlando’s fire chief in September of 2019 after his predecessor, former Fire Chief Roderick Williams, resigned amid allegations of harassment and retaliation. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined Williams and two deputy chiefs discriminated against a female employee, according to a report issued Feb. 13, 2019.

Barksdale was sworn in on Dec. 2, 2019. Before taking the helm of the Orlando Fire Department, Barksdale served as the fire chief of Prince George’s County, Maryland. He began his career in 1987 with the Arlington County Fire Department in Virginia where he rose up in the ranks to the assistant fire chief.