Austin Police Chief Abruptly Retires Amid Overwhelming Fallout From Years Of City Support Missteps

 August 22, 2023

On Monday, in a post on X, formerly Twitter, announcing his retirement, "with a heavy heart", Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon, said he came to the decision after a lot of “thoughtful prayer”.

In his statement Chacon reportedly wrote-

"This is one of the hardest messages that I’ve ever had to write,"… "A few months ago, I began seriously considering retirement and after long conversations with my wife and family, and thoughtful prayer, I have now made the decision that the moment is right to hang it up on a 25-year career with APD." Adding [it has been the] "pinnacle" [of his career and an] "absolute honor."

-Chief Joseph Chacon, Austin Police Department

His retirement comes in the wake of major staffing shortages, the absence of a police union contract and years of issues with the city council and mayors. His announcement also comes as residents continue to feel the aftermath of staffing shortages, which includes longer-than-normal hold times for 911calls, amid crime that continues spiraling out of control.

On Monday, in his statement to Fox News, Thomas Villarreal, President of the Austin Police Association blamed the Austin City Council for neglecting local law enforcement and alleging that the council’s mis-steps created a larger problem. Villarreal said the department currently has about 1,475 officers, in a city that should have closer to 2,000 officers and growing. In his statement Villarreal said-

"We just continue to have a city council that doesn’t show its police officers that [it] cares about them,"

-Thomas Villarreal, President, Austin Police Association

Reportedly, Chacon encouraged everyone to hold their heads up, continue the good fight and honor the profession by keeping the people of Austin safe. Meanwhile, Chief of Staff Robin Henderson will be named Interim Chief of Police. Additionally, as Henderson transitions into the role, Chacon will move into an advisory role for a brief period to ensure a smooth transition, before finalizing retirement and leaving the department.

A political action committee (PAC) dedicated to the quality of life in Austin, Save Austin Now, thanked Chacon for his service and commitment to improving public safety, while also congratulating Henderson for being appointed interim police chief.

The PAC said, in their statement regarding the national search for a new chief-

"This search will occur at a low point for public safety in our city. Amid rising crime, inadequate 911 response times and the most profound police staffing crisis in our city’s history, we must select a new police chief that can dramatically improve recruiting and retention and secure a new labor contract with the city,"

"The current Mayor and city council tragically let a collectively bargained four-year labor contract die in February and now there is no pathway forward, with a modest pay increase and benefit protections set to expire in March."

"Until City Hall rejects the poison of police abolitionists and their allied activists and ensures we have a strong, adequately staffed police department, public safety will continue to deteriorate."

-Save Austin Now PAC Statement

"I don't have to draw a line in the sand. I already have one. It's thin. It's blue. It's mine and if you cross it, I will protect it."

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