New Orangeburg police chief was once top cop in Columbia

June 11, 2022 GMT

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) — The man who ran the Columbia police department for more than a decade at the turn of the century has been hired to run Orangeburg’s police department.

Charles Austin was hired Thursday as chief of the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety after a nationwide search, The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg reported.

Austin had been running the department on an interim basis since September 2021.

Austin, who also is a pastor, said he wasn’t expecting to return to law enforcement full time, but he found the interim job fulfilling and enjoyable.

“Every day I say ‘Lord, thank you for this journey,’” Austin said. “I have lived a life that I never envisioned. I have met people that I never expected to meet, and I have had experiences that I never thought I would. I wake up singing for this joy that I have.”

Austin was Columbia’s first Black police chief, serving from 1990 to 2003. He also was the city’s manager for several years.

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Austin has ties to Orangeburg, He is a graduate of South Carolina State University and served as the police chief at the school.

“Chief Austin has a servant’s heart, and he is committed to make the city a safe place to work and live. The chief brings with him vast knowledge and experience,” Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said in a statement.