MILTON, Ga. — Police Chief Rich Austin is still new to Milton, having joined the city in January, but already he has grown to love his new hometown.

“Milton has an exceptional livability that was made apparent as soon as we visited,” Austin said. “I was actively seeking a position as chief, a place for my family to grow roots and be a part of the community.” And Milton fit that bill, he said.

“I am still humbled for the opportunity to serve as chief, and we love the city and are glad to call it home.”

Austin came to the city after a 25-year stint in North Carolina law enforcement. With the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department, Austin served as captain and worked in several areas including patrol, traffic, administration and internal affairs.

In his role as chief, Austin said his work entails the budgeting, administration and strategic planning for the department.

“Internally, providing leadership to our officers is very important to me,” Austin said. “We have exceptional officers in Milton. I really enjoy providing them the tools necessary to continue to develop professionally. I am truly humbled to serve as their chief.”

What he loves the most is interacting with the community, developing positive relationships with residents and further learning how to deliver exceptional police services to the city, he said.

“Representing the city means being engaged with the citizens. It also means being accessible and responsive to the community’s needs. I have a high expectation that our officers provide superior service to our citizens and I believe that starts with the chief,” Austin said.

Austin’s long career in law enforcement almost never happened.

After earning a music degree from Appalachian State University, Austin, a trombone player since the 5th grade, was in search of a career in music. But in order to pay off his student debt, he joined the police department in a Charlotte suburb.

“It was not my plan for a long-term career,” he said. “But once I did get into [law enforcement], I fell in love with it immediately.”

“The opportunity to be out and help people presents a unique opportunity. It’s very different each day and it enables you to be creative in problem solving and helping citizens,” Austin said.

In addition to his proficiency in music and law enforcement, Austin is also what his wife calls a “perpetual student.”

Austin holds master’s degrees in music, public administration, Christian education, criminal justice and is currently working toward a doctorate in public administration.

What draws him to continually further his education is his penchant to always look for the best way to accomplish something and to stay abreast of the best practices to implement in his role as chief, he said.

Though he is often kept busy by his studies and career, Austin still finds time to play music and says his family, which includes his wife, Ashley, and 7-year-old daughter, Claire, are active in church.

Braves’ fans, Austin and his family attend games often and enjoy exploring their new city, Milton, together.

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