SUGAR LAND, Texas – After 33 years in law enforcement, Thursday marked the first day of retirement for Eric Robins, Sugar Land’s now-former chief of police.
“I feel good,” Chief Robins said, adding the time was right to hang up his badge. “You think about these moments, but after 30 plus years in the same location, the same city, I feel like I’ve done my duties here.”
Robins’ duties with the Sugar Land Police Department began on patrol in 1992. He rose through the ranks over the years – from detective to assistant chief.
Robins was promoted to chief of police in 2018. From the beginning, Robins said he had to navigate a fine line, establishing himself as a leader in the community while also pushing for change within the department. That was no easy feat for a Black man who grew up in the South Park neighborhood on Houston’s south side.
When he joined the force, Sugar Land was a small town on Houston’s outskirts.
“At the time when I started, I believe it was during the Rodney King era, and it was a little more challenging, a lot of questions being raised, kind of like where we are now in law enforcement,” Robins said.
Those questions, he said, included what is the role of policing, and where responsibilities lie when it comes to bridging communal gaps. Robins said those questions were with him in his early days.
As a young officer, he said he wrote his then-chief about diversifying the force, making it look more like the people they were charged with serving and protecting.
“When I started, I just wanted to make sure that representation for the entire community was there,” Robins said.
Climbing the ranks, he said, helped to change policies, while also adding more women and people of color to the ranks.
“Someone has to be in those positions of authority to see what goes on,” Robins said.
That purview, today, according to Chief Robins, takes on added responsibility. He said some of that responsibility includes calling for legislation he says begets change.
“Gun laws, those are the things they have to take a hard look at. When you have more and more people, more guns are on the street, of course, in the larger cities. Things like bail reform. We have a lot of people that are out on bail that probably shouldn’t be out on bail,” Robins said
As chief of police, Robins is credited with implementing strategies that have led to the city’s lowest crime rate on record.
He applauds the work of his force for establishing relationships with the community as the reason behind that success.
While he’s officially retired, Robins hasn’t quite left the building. He said he’ll stay on as a consultant, as the city searches for a successor. In the meantime, this husband and father of two say he has quite the list of honey do’s to keep him busy in this new stage of life called retirement.
“I’m proud of this entire community and the entire region, and what I want to continue to do is help our region develop and help our community stay safe,” Robins said.