DeKalb County police’s former Chief James Conroy speaks at a ceremony to honor Master Police Officer Norman Larsen and DeKalb County police K-9 Indi outside of DeKalb County police headquarters in Tucker, Georgia on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. 
Photo: Emily Haney/emily.haney@ajc.com
Photo: Emily Haney/emily.haney@ajc.com

Following audit, Roswell police hires new police chief — from DeKalb

Roswell has a new top cop.

The city announced Thursday that James W. Conroy would take over the Roswell Police Department.

He comes after a draft audit in late June showed several incidents of officer misconduct left the department with low morale, a lack of leadership and not enough minority or women officers.

The City Council unanimously voted in September to spend $77,000 for a firm to review the department. In December, police chief Rusty Grant announced his retirement.

“We have had some issues, so to speak, and I’m just really looking forward to the analysis that shows where we’re deficient and the recommendations, and I’m looking forward to the new chief,” Roswell Mayor Lori Henry told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday.


BACKGROUND | Audit: Roswell police force needs more diversity, leadership


Conroy retired as chief of the DeKalb County Police Department in April. He’d been there about 30 of his 50 years.

“This is bittersweet. DeKalb has been a part of my daily life since I was 3 years old,” he told the AJC in February, when his retirement was announced.

His salary in Roswell will be $150,000, the city said. Roswell held a nationwide search for someone to lead its battered department.


READ | Roswell approves 350-apartment mixed-use development after testy talks


The 193-page audit was commissioned by the city soon after the following embarrassing incidents:

• A now-demoted sergeant whose body camera footage showed him leaving a 13-year-old boy in a cold patrol car and taunting the boy in January 2018.

• Two officers who were fired for using a coin-flip app to decide whether to arrest a woman during a traffic stop in April 2018

• Officers pulled over an off-duty police officer but let him go with a warning after he admitted to speeding and drinking alcohol before driving on March 10, 2018.

The audit described the need for the new chief to not only come from outside the department but be a proven leader and delegator, good communicator, someone with maturity and a cop who can fix some of trust issues the minority community has with the department.


READ | Roswell can now charge drivers for on-street parking downtown


Some minority members of the community told auditors that they have been the targets of racial profiling for years, citing instances of being pulled over for a traffic stop without a good reason. The report didn’t find proof of that, but said the perception itself is a problem.

Conroy led a department of more than 900 sworn officers in a county where nearly half of it 700,000 residents identified as black, according to U.S. Census data. Roswell’s police department has about 150 sworn officers and roughly 13% of the city’s 100,000 residents identify as black.

Henry said the council will vote on which recommendations to adopt from the audit. More than anything, she said she’s excited for July 29 when Conroy takes over.

“I think it’s a breath of fresh air in the city of Roswell,” she said.


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In other Roswell news...

Sandy Springs police told Channel 2's Kristen Holloway that Marten Bijvank, 29, of Sandy Springs was hit while riding his bike on Roswell Road.

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