By Gerhard Schneibel

A new leader will take the helm at the Sandy Springs Police Department Oct. 27, about four months after former Chief Gene Wilson resigned amidst an investigation into officers accepting gifts from citizens and abusing off-duty jobs.

Terry L. Sult, most recently chief of police in Gastonia, N.C., was selected from a pool of 62 candidates. Major David Bertrand, who was instrumental in the police department investigation, has been serving as acting chief since Wilson’s departure. That investigation also resulted in the resignation of former Major Jamey Moore and the firing of former Lt. Trudy Vaughan and former Sgt. Tanya Smith.

Sandy Springs City Manager John McDonough said he “chose Chief Sult not only for his successes but also based on impeccable references.“He is an innovative chief with unquestionable integrity. His leadership will be a great asset for Sandy Springs.”

Sult described himself as a team builder who “empowers ideas and decision-making while holding officers accountable.” He says his strengths are self-motivation and relationship building. “The focus of the police department must be preventing crime, solving-problems and enforcing laws,” he said. “Sandy Springs appears to embrace this philosophy on a city-wide basis.”

Mayor Eva Galambos said she hopes Sult will “upgrade the Sandy Springs Police Department into a strong, cohesive force. He brings a host of new and progressive initiatives to engage the total community toward a reduction of crime in our city,” she added.

Sult’s career accomplishments include the development of a street drug interdiction unit, implementation of a community problem-oriented policing system, crime reduction and strengthening cooperation among multiple jurisdictions.

Gastonia and Sandy Springs are comparable in size: Gastonia’s has about 70,000 residents and Sandy Springs has about 90,000. Gastonia’s police department employs 168 officers and Sandy Springs’ department employs about 142.

In addition to more than 30 years of experience in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Police Department, Sult graduated in 2002 from Pfeiffer University in Charlotte, N.C. with a Master of Business Administration degree and in 2000 from Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.

Sandy Springs Police spokesman Lt. Steve Rose said officers are happy to end the department’s “transitional period” and have a permanent chief.

“What will happen is he’ll come in and we’ll learn his philosophy and start working on long-term planning,” he said. “We’re all very impressed with his resume and the things that were said about him. He looks like somebody that is going to fit in well here because it looks like he had a lot of street experience.”

City Manager John McDonough said he wanted to “personally thank Major David Bertrand for stepping up and serving as our acting chief.”

Sult will receive an annual salary of $143,500 and benefits.