Elizabeth Watson

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Elizabeth "Betsy" Watson
Other names "Betsy"
Police career
Department Houston Police Department
Years of service 1990–1992

Police Trainee - 1972
Detective - 1976
US-O1 insignia.svg Lieutenant - 1981
Captain insignia gold.svg Captain - 1984
2 Gold Stars.svg Deputy Chief - 1987

4 Gold Stars.svg Houston Police Chief - 1990–1992[1]
4 Gold Stars.svg Austin Police Chief - 1992–1997

Elizabeth "Betsy" Watson, was Houston's first female Police chief after climbing through the ranks. She served for two years before becoming the Chief for Austin's Police department before moving on to be a law enforcement consultant.


Watson grew up in Philadelphia but attended high school in Houston, after graduating from college and joining HPD, she met Chase in late 1973 when they were both assigned to the Houston jail, and they began dating the following spring. Since such fraternization was frowned upon, they used a police scuba-diving club as a cover.[2] They married in 1976, the same day she was promoted to Detective.


She received her degree in psychology from Texas Tech University in 1971.[3]


Immediately after graduating, she applied for the Houston Police Department, graduating at the top of her class.[4] She commented that it was tough to be a female officer at the time, and her husband had coaxed her to take, and pass, the Lieutenant's exam after she was forced out of burglary division. To make up for her lack of street experience, she volunteered for night shift duty at some of the city's roughest substations.[5]

As deputy chief, she commanded the West Side Command Station, the first of five planned stations that are the cornerstone of Chief Brown's program to decentralize police work and make it more responsive to the community.[6]

When she was tapped to be the Chief, she would inherit a police force in turmoil or low morale attributed to low pay and a public mistrust of the police due to some recent shootings.[7]

With the swearing in of Sam Nuchia as the Chief, Watson was demoted to Assistant Chief earlier in the year, she took up a position at National Institute of Justice(NIJ) where she will work as a Researcher and adviser. The NIJ compensated the city for salary and benefits until Watson is eligible for retirement in December and She will be commuting between Washington, D.C. and Houston.[8]

A few weeks later, Watson announced that she will be taking the Police Chief's position at the Austin Police Department,[9] However, she said that she would be unable to take the position until December 5, which is the date that she would complete her 20 yr status, and therefore is eligible for retirement pay.[10]

On December 5, 1992 Watson was sworn in as Chief of Police at Austin, Texas.[11] She would resign in 1997 after a tenure racked with turmoil, police shortages, and other controversies.[12]


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