AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s newest assistant police chief was pinned Monday.

Assistant Chief Robin Henderson is a 22-year veteran of the Austin Police Department. She hopes her unique success story will inspire others.

Henderson says her father suggested that she apply to the Austin Police Department after she’d hit a low point. She says she’d gotten pregnant at 19-years-old, dropped out of college twice and was working as a cocktail waitress at the time.

Describing her situation, Henderson recalled: “young, minority, African American…who wound up pregnant at 19, college dropout, going to the WIC office to get assistance, you know, could achieve this. So I’m all for telling my story, because I want to inspire others.”

APD Assistant Chief Robin Henderson
Photo: Twitter/Brian Manley

Henderson remembers the exact date and time that she graduated from the Austin Police Academy.

“Friday, Nov. 21, 1997 at the LBJ Library auditorium at 7 p.m.” she laughed, while showing a picture of herself holding her then-two-year-old son.

Henderson says she chose to work for APD to feed her son and provide a good life for him. She chose to stay with APD, she says, because it became “home” and fellow officers became “family”.

Robin Henderson smiled proudly with her son, Taylor and her parents after graduating from Austin’s Police Academy in 1997. (Photo Courtesy: Robin Henderson)

Henderson replaced former Assistant Chief Justin Newsom. Allegations that he made racist comments sparked an investigation into culture at APD, along with complaints that the department doesn’t fairly promote minorities.

“It’s exciting that we’re moving forward in a progressive direction,” she said. “Chief Manley recognizes that, and I appreciate the efforts that he’s put forth thus far. But, the task, the journey, needs to continue, and there needs to be a concerted, focused attention on doing that and recognizing that there is an opportunity to do more with the minorities, whether it be through African Americans or women in policing, we just need to make sure that stays on the forefront of our decisions and our actions.”

Henderson will oversee the north part of town, which includes spots like the Rundberg area, which is known for high crime. She’ll focus on community policing to help reach a population that often fears officers.

Henderson says she plans to use her success story to encourage women, minorities, and children facing adversity in her new area of command that they, too, can overcome challenges.

“Just having that resiliency and knowing that if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish it,” she said.