Fulton County police chief retiring before Renaissance transition

3:50 p.m Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 Local
Then-Fulton Chairman John Eaves (left), stands beside Fulton county police chief Gary Stiles at a press conference where they discussed proposals to help reduce crime in south Fulton. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM AJC FILE PHOTO

Fulton County Police Chief Gary Stiles will retire next month, three months before the department transitions to the new city of Renaissance — formerly South Fulton.

County and city leaders are planning to shift most if not all of Fulton’s police department employees to the new city. Over the years, as more unincorporated areas in Fulton have become municipalities, the county police jurisdiction has shrunk. The transfer of the department to the city made sense because the department’s main responsibility was to the area that became Renaissance.

Stiles had planned to retire last year, Fulton County Manager Dick Anderson said, but was talked into staying as the transition planning took place. His deputy chief, Darryl Halbert, will take over the department on an interim basis.

“I don’t think Gary saw himself going to the new city and starting anew,” Anderson said. “He took us all the way to the finish line. He had a successor ready and prepared. He had it well-planned and the timing’s good.”

Stiles’ last day is Dec. 12. He has been with the department since 1985, and became the interim chief in April 2015 before getting the full-time job later that year. He had been the assistant chief for a decade.

Bill Edwards, the mayor of Renaissance, said he knew Stiles had planned to leave the department, and it would not affect the process of bringing police into the new city. Halbert will take over, he said, and Renaissance’s city manager will hire a permanent police chief.

Halbert joined the department in 1993 and became deputy chief last year.

“I think he’s well respected, a good leader and connected to the community,” Anderson said.

Edwards said everything is on track for the transition.

Mayor of the City of South Fulton William “Bill” Edwards speaks to the crowd at the Inauguration Ceremony of the City of South Fulton Mayor & City Council in at B.E. Banneker High School in South Fulton, Georgia. Edwards is upset that Fulton County commissioners won’t agree to let the county tax commissioner collect taxes for the city. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM) AJC FILE PHOTO

The county had 213 positions for police in its 2017 budget, including 175 in the special service district that, except for the unincorporated part of Fulton Industrial, became Renaissance. The police force currently has 23 vacancies for officers and one civilian opening. Anderson said as the county is recruiting new officers, he is reassuring them that they will still have jobs — with Renaissance — after the county police department comes under the city’s purview.

“The thing we’re working with the new city on is convincing the recruits that there’s no uncertainty,” he said.

Fulton County is still working to determine what the best way is to protect the small area on Fulton Industrial Boulevard that remains unincorporated. Anderson said Fulton could ask the sheriff’s office to patrol that area, could contract with Renaissance or could maintain a small police presence.

During his tenure, Stiles added more than 100 body cameras to the force, increased patrol officers and created a position for a crime analyst. Anderson also cited Stiles’ work to curtail a juvenile crime spree at gas stations last year as one of his accomplishments.

In those cases, Stiles targeted a small group of people who appeared to be committing most of the crimes and communicated with juvenile court to keep those individuals from being released. The work had a “significant impact” Anderson said.

Halbert, a Mississippi State University graduate who has a Master’s degree from Columbus State University, served in Operation Desert Storm. He is involved in the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.


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