Manager Blaine Williams Appoints Cleveland Spruill, Sr. as New Athens-Clarke County Police Chief

Staff Report From Athens CEO

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Manager Blaine Williams has appointed Cleveland Lee Spruill, Sr. as the Chief of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department. He will begin his duties as of February 4, 2019. 

“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,” says Williams.  “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.”

Chief Spruill had served as the Huntersville, North Carolina Chief of Police from May 2014 until January 2019. In his position, he led the 111 member (102 sworn and 9 civilian) Huntersville Police Department in a town with a population of 60,000 and an annual police budget exceeding $12.8 million.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be selected as the next chief of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department,” said Spruill. “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. 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.”

Prior to his time in Huntersville, Spruill served the Alexandria, Virginia Police Department for nearly 27 years. This included more than 17 years of command level experience with assignments in each of the major bureaus. In his final assignment with the Alexandria Police, Spruill served as the Executive Deputy Chief, managing more than 320 sworn and 105 civilian employees, with an annual police budget that exceeded $57 million and serving a population of more than 150,000. Spruill retired from the Alexandria Police Department in 2014 to become the Chief in Huntersville. 

“Throughout his 31-year police career, Chief Spruill has established a reputation as a reformer and change agent,” notes Williams. “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.” 

As part of the process of selecting a new Police Chief, Williams collected public input from residents, as well as current and past police officers. Residents submitted over 150 online form submissions and voicemails, while a panel of Police Department Command Staff also provided feedback and recommendations.   

“Chief Spruill embodies the characteristics that both the community and the government are seeking,” said Williams. “I believe he can connect well with the community - including underserved populations, will support the officers, will communicate in a transparent fashion, is fair and builds trust, will emphasize training and 21st Century Policing principles, and has demonstrated an experienced career leading community policing.”

Spruill was born in Queens, New York, in 1964 and relocated with his family to Richmond, Virginia in 1978. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he was assigned to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Battalion at Ft. Myer, Virginia. He was honorably discharged in 1986 and joined the Alexandria Police Department the following year.  

Chief Spruill is a graduate of the 217th Session of the FBI National Academy in 2004 and completed the Police Executive Research Forum Senior Management Institute for Police in 2012. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s degree, both in Business Management, from Johns Hopkins University. 

Spruill is a member of the Police Executive Research Forum, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police.

Chief Spruill has three adult children and two grandchildren. During his spare time, he enjoys participating in church youth mentoring programs and coaching youth football.

“Interim Chief Mike Hunsinger has done a commendable job of managing the Police Department during this time of transition,” said Williams. “The Unified Government and this community truly owe him a debt of gratitude.”