DeKalb interim chief has CEO’s backing for job

Officially he’s the acting chief, but for all intents William O’Brien has the job.

It’s been almost a year since DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis fired police Chief Terrell Bolton. Ellis tapped O’Brien to lead the force until a permanent leader could be named. But there has been no mention of a search, nor a job opening posted.

“Officially he’s in an acting position,” Ellis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But as far as I’m concerned by the decrease in crime and improvement in morale, he’s my guy.”

O’Brien said he is committed to leading the police department and hopes the administration chooses him to serve as chief.

The only problem is O’Brien has spent the past 25 years working as a DeKalb officer and never finished his college degree. He’s since returned to school and has about six months left, he said.

“Once he completes his education, he’s in,” Ellis said. “He’s doing a great job.”

O’Brien graduated from DeKalb’s Redan High School and joined the police department. In addition to working as a patrol officer, O’Brien worked as a homicide detective, burglary investigator and field operations supervisor for the Interactive Community Policing Unit. He also served as chief of staff and internal affairs commander, creating a system to detect patterns of police misconduct.

Bolton, the former Dallas Police chief, was fired for insubordination, misuse of county property and abuse of compensatory time. He appealed, but a hearing officer threw out the appeal in July.