Nov 1, 2022 - News

Darin Schierbaum named Atlanta's new police chief

Darin schierbaum

Darin Schierbaum was named the 26th Atlanta police chief by Mayor Andre Dickens. Credit: Kristal Dixon/Axios

Darin Schierbaum, a veteran of the Atlanta Police Department, has been named to serve as the city’s 26th chief after acting in an interim capacity since Rodney Bryant retired in June.

Why it matters: Schierbaum takes the helm of a department that’s grappling with staffing issues, gun violence that stems from escalating disputes and concerns from some residents about crime.

What they’re saying: Mayor Andre Dickens said at a press conference that Atlanta searched around the country for its next police chief, but found that the right candidate was already leading the department.

  • Schierbaum is a chief who uses data to make decisions, can deepen the ties the department has with the community and is committed to implementing recommendations from former President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Dickens said.
  • "He has shown (that) he is someone who can make the tough calls objectively," the mayor said of Schierbaum. "He is focused and resourceful and he is worthy of our trust."
  • City Councilman Dustin Hillis, chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee, told Axios he is impressed with Schierbaum’s level of public engagement. "I kind of [felt] in my gut that he was the one, and I’m glad to see that he shed that interim title," he said.

Schierbaum said he "can think of no higher honor than to serve as chief of police to the most talented and dedicated group of men and women who have said yes to public service."

  • "I will be a chief of police that is fully engaged in that journey alongside you, working to ensure that we remain a department that is a part of innovation and progress, fully committed to respecting those that we are protecting," he said.

Catch up quick: Schierbaum joined APD in 2002 after 10 years with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department in Illinois. He started as an officer patrolling Zone 5, which includes most of Downtown and Midtown.

  • He once commanded the city’s Graffiti Abatement, LGBT, Community and Hispanic liaison units.

What we’re watching: After the press conference, Schierbaum told Axios that the department is budgeted for 2,035 sworn officers, but currently has about 1,500 of those positions filled. It has 140 recruits going through various levels of training.

  • While the state only mandates 11 weeks of training for new officers, Atlanta puts its recruits through 35 weeks of training before they hit the streets.
  • "If all we would have to do is adopt the state's training policy, we could have 140 officers on the street in two weeks," he said. "But we believe proper preparation is 21st century policing, and we will not sacrifice 21st century policing just to put ... men and women on the street."

The bottom line: Schierbaum told Axios that the department understands that every interaction with residents is a form of "rebuilding the public trust" in the agency.

  • "This is a team sport and the police department is proud of its role, but we want the community to be right there with us," he said.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that the state requires 11 weeks of training for new officers, not less than a month.


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