Interim Police Chief Jerry Saulters will take over leadership of the ACC Police Department permanently, Manager Blaine Williams announced last week.
Saulters, a veteran of the local police force, has served as interim chief since Cleveland Spruill retired in March to be closer to his family in Virginia and Maryland. Previously, Saulters served as deputy chief, commanded the Criminal Investigations Division, oversaw the Office of Professional Standards, Recruitment and Crime Prevention and the Robbery and Homicides Unit, and was a Westside shift commander and patrolman.
“Jerry Saulters has the heart of a servant and guardian, and he is a terrific human being,” Williams said in a news release Oct. 7. “I believe he is the best person to lead our sworn and civilian staff as chief of police of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, as well as to continue to build trust, respect and relationships in the community with all of our residents.”
Saulters took over a department that—like many others around the country—has struggled to recruit and retain officers in recent years, leading ACC commissioners to raise salaries and add perks like signing bonuses and take-home vehicles.
Saulters will also have to continue to deal with a rise in gang activity, as well as community mistrust stemming from six police shootings in 2019 and high-profile complaints of police misconduct against Black suspects nationwide. The ACC Police Department has 330 employees at full strength and a $27 million annual budget.
“I am humbled by this opportunity to lead the Athens-Clarke County Police Department as the chief of police,” Saulters said. “Working alongside our outstanding men and women and serving the Athens-Clarke County community for the last 24 years has been an honor and a privilege. The Athens-Clarke County Police Department and those who serve this community are among the best in the world, and we will continue collaborating with our community to reduce crime and enhance public trust.”
Williams selected Saulters after a nationwide search that included 600 comments from local residents and current and past officers.
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