Johns Creek names next police chief

Johns Creek announced Paul J. Mitchell will be sworn in as the city's next police chief. Mitchell served as chief of staff for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and previously was chief of police for the city of Canton. Photo courtesy Johns Creek.
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Johns Creek announced Paul J. Mitchell will be sworn in as the city's next police chief. Mitchell served as chief of staff for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and previously was chief of police for the city of Canton. Photo courtesy Johns Creek.

After an extensive search that included residents’ input, Johns Creek has named its next police chief.

City Manager Ed Densmore introduced Mark J. Mitchell, a 28-year veteran of law enforcement, during a Monday City Council meeting.

Mitchell will be sworn in on June 21. Mitchell served as chief of staff for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice since 2019, and previously was chief of police for the city of Canton.

He told City Council that community relationships and positive police department culture would be his priorities.

“This is a great department and a great community and it’s going to be about the community,” Mitchell said during the City Council meeting.

Johns Creek announced Mitchell as chief exactly one year after former chief Chris Byers came under scrutiny for a controversial Facebook post on the Black Lives Matter movement. A few days later, the city launched an investigation into explicit sexual remarks he made to a police department employee. Byers resigned last August and received a $325,000 settlement with the city.

The police department has been led by Interim Chief Roland Castro.

Densmore included residents’ input in the search for a new chief after members of the community called for more transparency in the police department.

The International Association of the Chiefs of Police conducted the search and surveyed residents to determine what qualifications they wanted to see in the new chief. Mitchell and other finalists also met with a resident panel before the final selection was made, Densmore said Monday.

“What struck me about him was his passion for Johns Creek,” Densmore said. “He researched Johns Creek extensively. His sense of community and where he came from (the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice) … I think he is the exact fit that we all talked about and that we look for.”

Mitchell received a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Troy University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, a Johns Creek statement said. He has more than 14 years of command level experience in police administration, criminal investigations, special operations, juvenile justice, and behavioral issues including mental illness or crisis intervention.