Instead of Booking Criminals, Officer Takes Up the Good Book

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Simi Valley Police Lt. Don Austin has made some dramatic career changes over the years. But his latest move is a real leap of faith.

As a young new officer in Redlands in the early ‘70s, Austin thought that he would fight crime forever.

But he quit after three years and returned to managing a discount department store.

His desire for law enforcement returned after a couple of years, however. In 1974, he was hired by the Simi Valley Police Department, where he has worked for the last 25 years.


Now he’s leaving to be a pastor.

Last month, after years of working for a master’s degree in divinity studies, the 53-year-old Palmdale resident was appointed to lead the 80-member congregation that is Pearblossom Community United Methodist Church.

Next month, he officially retires from police work, leaving crime fighting to become a full-time man of the cloth in the Antelope Valley.

Meanwhile, he works both jobs. Preacher by day and cop by night.

“It’s something that I’m still getting used to, but I’m excited about it,” he said of his work on the pulpit.

Austin’s colleagues on the force say they have no doubt that he will be effective in delivering the word.

“He’s a big guy, a real big guy,” Lt. Rex Jones said. “They’ll listen to him when he talks.”