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Newport News Now

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Newport News Now is a daily e-newsletter that launched in March 2016. Articles that ran in our newsletter between March 2016 and March 2018 are available on these pages. Newsletters produced beginning in April 2018 can be viewed on our new daily newsletter page.

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Feb 28

African American History Month Series- George Austin

Posted on February 28, 2017 at 8:08 AM by Communications Department

In honor of African American History Month, we are highlighting African Americans who have changed and impacted the City of Newport News. 

George Austin became the first black police lieutenant in Virginia in 1963 and was the City of Newport News’ first black police chief in 1975. He was one geoAustin_SCof three black police officers who worked segregated beats. Segregation meant that black officers could cover only certain districts of the city. His career spanned three decades where he rose through the ranks from patrolman to chief.

Originally from Newark, NJ, Austin relocated to Hampton, VA to attend Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) where he graduated with honors in 1940. After graduating from Hampton Institute, he went on to serve in the Pacific Theater as a Navy enlistee during World War II. When he returned, he attended Virginia's police academy, finishing near the top of his class. He officially joined the Newport News Police Department in 1947. Chief Austin's first beat covered Jefferson Avenue in southeast Newport News where he patrolled on foot because black police officers were not allowed to drive police cars. In 1967, he was named one of the nation's top police officers by Parade Magazine and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Chief Austin retired from the force in 1983.