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Austin ISD selects first Black chief to lead district police department

Wayne Sneed will step into the role on Aug. 1 to lead 76 officers in the department.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin ISD Interim Superintendent Anthony Mays announced Thursday that he has chosen Austin ISD Police Department Lt. Wayne Sneed to lead the school district's police department. 

Chief Sneed is the first Black police chief to serve the district. He steps into the role on Aug. 1 and will lead the department of 76 officers.

“When we start trying to represent diversity and equity, having someone that has a different life path and vision based on the life path is important,” Sneed said, who referenced his upbringing as giving him a different perspective. “I went to school to eat, I didn’t go to school to learn.” 

Sneed is taking over the position at a time when school safety is a top priority following the tragic Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde. 

"Safety is everyone's top priority for our schools, and that's why it's critical to have a police chief in place before the start of school," Mays said in a media release. “I would like to thank Lieutenant Beverly Freshour for her service as interim chief.”

RELATED: Austin ISD police chief leaving after 4 years

A committee made up of principals and district leaders made the recommendation to Mays to hire Sneed following interviews with internal and external candidates. 

Sneed has been with AISD PD for the past 10 years, most recently leading the mental health and community engagement unit. Sneed also teaches law enforcement at Texas State University. 

He has 40 years of experience, which includes experience in Austin and San Marcos. Sneed also served as a special agent with the National Insurance Crime Bureau and director of internal affairs for the Office of the Inspector General with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. 

Sneed was also appointed to the Texas Juvenile Advisory Board in 2017 but is not currently serving on the board.

AISD said Sneed knows the Austin ISD community well and has always wanted to be in law enforcement. 

Sneed is taking over for Ashley Gonzalez, who led the department for four years. Gonzalez announced on May 24 that he was leaving to lead another agency in New England. 

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