Ellison earns APD’s top spot


By John Erick Alderson

When Austin”s Chief of police Stan Knee stepped down in June, then-assistant chief Cathy Ellison rose to assume the role of Interim Chief of Police. Ellison was raised in nearby Dale, were she said she gained much of her drive, helping her family at work. She later attended Southwest Texas State University, earning a bachelor

“s degree in Criminal Justice. She joined the Austin Police Department by chance, after meeting a police recruiter at a college job fair.
Chief Ellison”s 27-year career with the Austin Police Department shows a wealth of law enforcement experience. After graduating from police academy in 1979, Ellison worked alternatively as an officer in the Patrol, Traffic and Recruitment Departments. She served as a detective in both the theft and child abuse departments, and as a sergeant in Street Crime Response. As a lieutenant, Ellison supervised Patrol and was a liaison with the Police Monitor”s Office.
In 2003 Ellison was promoted to Assistant chief, where she served until taking the role of Interim Chief. In her new position, Ellison hopes to continue work on a program to improve relations with illegal immigrants so all people in the city can be safe from crime.
Ellison holds the additional honor of being the first black woman to be either Assistant or Interim Chief.
Ellison has faced challenges in her career, but said the 1976 addition of women to the Austin Police Department helped pave the way for future minority officers.
According to the National Center for Women and Policing, women only account for 11 percent of police officers, while African-Americans are only 12 percent of total law enforcement personnel.
Chief Ellison serves as an example to everyone by offering this advice, “Whoever you are and wherever you come from you can do anything you put your mind to.”


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