Athens seeks new police chief as deputy chief appointed as interim | City News

Since the retirement of Athens-Clarke County Police Department Chief Cleveland Spruill on March 10, the Athens-Clarke County government has begun the process of finding a new candidate to assume the role.

Spruill served as head of the ACCPD for three years and had more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, according to a March 10 declaration of the ACCGov. Athens-Clarke County Government Director Blaine Williams shared a survey with Athens citizens and ACCPD officers to help determine who will fill the next position.

“A good police chief connects with people,” Williams said. “So you need someone who has a balanced outlook, who is calm under pressure, who can make good decisions.”

The pollclosing on Sunday, April 10, asks the public to select the areas the incoming chef should address and the qualities they should have.

Until then, Williams has named Deputy Chief of Police Jerry Saulters as acting chief of the ACCPD. Saulters has worked for the ACCPD since 1998 and became deputy chief in 2019, the statement said.

“The most important trait of a chef is that you have to care. It can’t just be a job and I make X amount of money, it’s good for you,” Saulters said. “Because If you don’t care, you’re not going to succeed.If you don’t care about the community officers, you’re going to have challenges.

The next chief, who will take on both administrative duties and local concerns, must manage what the ACCPD calls “the non-enforcement contact”. Saulters said this is done through community outreach and rehabilitation programs, rather than a constant focus on crime and criminals.

“How were [ACCPD] different, I would say, are our community programs, how our goal within the agency is to continue to build bridges with the community in relationships, positive relationships, and to have as much non-application contact as possible with the public,” Saulters mentioned.

After the survey deadline, Williams said responses will be incorporated into the job description when the national search begins. There will be a first review done after about a month, before the first round of interviews.

Then the candidates are narrowed down further and the strengths of each potential leader are analyzed by an evaluation committee. Williams said the council will be made up of police chiefs from across the country sent by the International Association of Chiefs of Police to make suggestions on nominees.

They will search both in the existing department and across the country until a new employee is found. ACCGov hopes to find a replacement for retired chief Spruill by the end of the year, Williams said.

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