AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon announced Monday he would be stepping down from leadership after 25 years with the Austin Police Department and nearly two years serving as its chief.
In his statement, Chacon said the decision came after several months of serious considerations and conversations with his family.
“Working at APD with you, the sworn and civilian men and women of this amazing department, has been the privilege of my life,” Chacon said in part. “Being the Chief of Police is something that I never thought would have been possible, and it has been the pinnacle of my career and an absolute honor to serve you. I know that all of you will continue on this journey, and will make the city proud in your service. Please hold your heads up, keep fighting the good fight, and honor the profession by keeping the citizens of this city safe. Thank you for making this department look so good through [your] tireless and selfless service, and for making this one of the safest big cities in the country.”
Amid news of Chacon’s retirement, several city leaders and organizations weighed in on the announcement.
Austin leaders on Chacon’s retirement
“Chief Chacon led the Austin Police Department with integrity and a deep commitment to the people of the department as well as our community,” Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said in a statement. “I appreciate his work to cultivate mutual respect and trust during a challenging time in which we’re all trying to find the right balance in policing. We wish him a well-deserved and fulfilling retirement, and we are immensely grateful for his years of service.”
Austin City Council Member Mackenzie Kelly said Chacon’s departure “leaves big shoes to fill, but he’s prepared a strong leadership team.” She commended APD’s chief of staff, Robin Henderson, who has been selected to serve as interim chief following Chacon’s departure. She added council is poised to ratify her interim appointment at its Aug. 31 meeting.
City Council Member Zohaib Qadri wrote he was grateful for Chacon’s “service and unwavering commitment” to the community.
“In the short time I was privileged to have worked with him, Chief Chacon demonstrated nothing but class and professionalism. I will be forever grateful for his service and unwavering commitment to keeping our community safe. I wish him the best on his next chapter, and I look forward to working with and supporting Interim Chief Henderson as she takes the reins on one of the toughest jobs in the city,” Qadri said in a statement.
The Austin Police Association thanked Chacon for his service to citizens in both Austin and El Paso and for his time serving on APA’s board of directors.
“We wish you the best of luck in retirement,” APA’s statement read in part. “We would also like to congratulate Chief Robin Henderson on her pending appointment as interim chief of police. We look forward to continuing our collaborative work to get our police department where it needs to be.”
Council Member Leslie Pool commended Chacon for his “steady hand and compassionate heart” while navigating “the most extreme and remarkable challenges for our community.”
“Chief Chacon’s retirement leaves a big hole to fill, but he has done everything within his power to build a leadership team to succeed him,” Pool said. “I thank Chief Chacon for his many years of service, and I welcome Interim Police Chief Robin Henderson to her new post.”
Political action committee Save Austin Now’s founders Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek thanked Chacon for his extensive service to APD and efforts to enhance public safety within Austin. In its statement, Save Austin Now criticized city leadership over the current lack of a police labor contract in place, adding this national chief search is happening at “a low point for public safety in our city.”
“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,” Mackowiak and Petricek said in part.
Council Member Vanessa Fuentes credited Chacon’s leadership in helping implement the department’s 10-day release policy on critical incident videos. In her statement, she said Chacon “led our community with heart” and shared well wishes for his next chapter.
“I look forward to supporting Interim Chief Robin Henderson & our police officers during this transition period,” Fuentes said.
In a statement, City Council’s Chito Vela wrote Chacon handled the role with “class and diplomacy.”
“Police chief may be the toughest job in Austin, but Chief Chacon has handled it with class and diplomacy. Best to him in the future. I’ve enjoyed working w his Chief of Staff [Robin Henderson] and look forward to her as Interim Police Chief,” Vela said in the statement.