New APD assistant chief hopes to inspire others with her story

El Paso native Robin Henderson wanted to be a dentist when she grew up but with a baby on the way, life became more challenging.

"I was going to school full time, trying to manage my kiddo. I was just getting burned out. I was sitting in the right class on the wrong day or the wrong class on the right day," she said.

Her dad suggested she apply for the Austin Police Department. Twenty-two years later, she hasn't looked back. "I was hired onto APD May 5, 1997. I’m part of the 90th cadet class,” said Henderson.

Henderson had a variety of roles at the Austin Police Department, from patrolling the streets, to trainer, to detective. But soon after former Assistant Chief Justin Newsom retired amid racist allegations, there was an opening for the job. Manley knew she was the one for it. She will oversee patrol functions as an assistant chief.


Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 7 Austin News app. It is FREE!

Download for iOS or Android


Manley said Henderson is the second black woman to hold the assistant chief title in his 30-year career with the department.“The role of assistant chief in the Austin Police Department is one that's earned not given, and robin absolutely earned this position,” said Manley.

Manley has had the opportunity to work with Henderson over the years.“When you sit and listen to her story even life before APD and being a single mom and juggling the responsibilities of raising a child, going to school, and holding a job…the tenacity she had in those endeavors carried over into the police department,” said Manley.

He is hoping her story can inspire all, including women of color, to reach for their dreams. “I think a police department should always reflect the community we serve and we strive to do that here,” said Manley.

There's a reason Henderson never looked back after joining the force it's a love for her work and her community.

“I developed a love for the Austin community and being able to have the ability to make the best possible outcome out of somebody's potential worst day of their life,” she said.

Henderson is one of six assistant police chiefs.