The City of Burlington announced George “Rich” Austin Jr. will be the city’s newest chief of police. The Charlotte native plans to relocate to Burlington in the coming weeks and most recently served as the police chief of Milton, Georgia since January 2017. 

Austin will begin the role on September 27, 2021. Interim Chief of Police Eric Kerns, who has 30 years of experience with the Burlington Police Department, filled the role after Chief of Police J. Jeffrey Smythe retired on May 27. 

Throughout his 32 year career in municipal policing, Austin served in GA and in Charlotte. As part of his 24 years of service with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, he served in a variety of patrol, administrative and leadership positions. 

As an officer in Charlotte, Austin served on a team that led the CMPD from traditional policing to community-oriented policing, a practice recently hired Elon University Chief of Police Joe LeMire also advocates for.

The city of Burlington did not respond to Elon News Network's immediate request for comment. An announcement including details of a swearing in ceremony for Austin is set to come.