After an extensive search, former police chief Scott Freeman’s replacement has been chosen. Cleveland Spruill, who was most recently chief of the Huntersville Police Department in North Carolina, will begin his duty as the new chief on Feb. 4.
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As reported in the Athens Banner-Herald, Spruill, a law enforcement veteran for over 30 years, was selected after a national search that utilized criteria highly solicited by Athens residents, said County Manager Blaine Williams.
“After careful consideration and based on extensive feedback from the citizens and officers about what they want to see in our new police chief, I believe that Chief Spruill will be an exceptional fit for Athens-Clarke County,” Williams said in a news release. “He stood out among an extremely well-qualified group of candidates as the right person to lead our police department, uphold our community-oriented policing philosophy, and serve as an ambassador to the community.”
Williams mentioned that Athens is a “unique community” and hiring an outsider was “a gamble,” but said he Spruill stood out because his diverse law enforcement experience “brings added value.”
Williams also said his small list of candidates included Athens officers, but after he traveled to Huntersville over the holidays to engage with the city’s residents and police officers, their praises over Spruill confirmed his decision.
“I was extremely encouraged from what I heard,” Williams said.
A factor that contributed in the hiring of Spruill was that “community policing is part of who he is,” Williams said.
“I look forward to leading the talented and capable men and women of the department and pledge my best effort to train them and enrich their careers,” Spruill said in prepared remarks.
“Together we will strive to build on organizational successes and enhance trust and relationships with the community to make Athens-Clarke County among the safest places in Georgia to live, learn, work and visit.”
Before his position in Huntersville, Spruill served the Alexandria Police Department in Virginia for almost 27 years. There he had more than 17 years of command-level experience with assignments in each of the major bureaus.
“Throughout his 31-year police career, Chief Spruill has established a reputation as a reformer and change agent,” Williams said. “He has shown that he can support his officers effectively in reducing crime and enhancing the quality of life, while at the same time building trust and strengthening community relationships with law enforcement.”
Born in Queens, New York, in 1964, Spruill relocated with his family to Richmond, Virginia, in 1978. After high school graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he was assigned to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Battalion at Ft. Myer, Virginia. A year after being honorably discharged in 1986, Spruill joined the Alexandria Police Department.
We are hopeful that the new Chief of Police will be able to help bring to an end the difficulties that have plagued the ACCPD in recent months. Athens needs and deserves an effective, diligent and courteous police force so she can continue to be the best place to live and work in the State.