Assistant Austin Police Chief over downtown sector retires

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Assistant Chief of Police who oversees Austin’s downtown sector retired Wednesday.

Assistant Chief Justin Newsom confirmed his retirement to KXAN Thursday. Newsom oversees the downtown sector and has been actively involved in Austin’s discussions about how to better address homelessness and stop violence downtown over the past few years. He also oversaw APD’s portion of the Homeless Outreach Street Team.

“After 23 years of honorable service, it was a personal decision I came to with my wife,” Newsom said to KXAN. He explained that retirement was something he’d been thinking about for a while.

The city confirmed Thursday that someone filed a complaint against Newsom with the Office of Police Monitor. The complaint was filed the day before Newsom’s retirement, according to a source with knowledge of the details of the complaint.

The complaint accuses Newsom of using derogatory language during his time with the department. KXAN asked the city for a copy of the filed complaint, but the city would not release the record without a formal records request. That formal records request was filed Thursday.

In a call with Newsom, he told KXAN his retirement had nothing to do with allegations made against him, “I don’t know if a complaint was filed, I haven’t seen it or heard of one.”

Newsom said the politics of the job of an assistant chief was the “least fun it’s ever been” and described dealing with those politics as a “death of a thousand cuts.”

Newsom said his retirement was nothing more than that he’d reached the 23 year mark in law enforcement in the city and was eligible for retirement and decided to step down. Newsom sent the city this statement Thursday:

“Although it appears abrupt, it is something that I have been discussing for quite some time with my family and select friends. I will forever be proud of my service to this city and my work as part of the effort to improve the lives of the homeless and mentally ill community. Over the last three years, my collaboration with groups who strive daily to help those in the most need have forever changed my heart and I hope to continue to be helpful in the future.”

Justin Newsom, Fmr. Austin Police Assistant Chief

All of Newsom’s 23 years in police work have been with Austin Police Department.

This announcement comes as Austin continues to work to figure out how to best address homelessness and anticipates state action to clear out homeless encampments under state overpasses on Monday.

Assistant Austin Police Chief Justin Newsom speaks to a woman experiencing homelessness in downtown Austin in 2017. (KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard)

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