Acworth police chief set to retire, former Cobb prosecutor to replace him

Wayne Dennard and Jesse Evans standing between a U.S. flag and a Georgia flagAcworth Chief of Police Wayne Dennard and Cobb County’s former Chief Assistant District Attorney, Jesse Evans (photo provided by the City of Acworth)

By Arielle Robinson

The City of Acworth announced yesterday that Police Chief Wayne Dennard will retire next year and be replaced by former Cobb County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans.

Dennard has been police chief since 2012 and a longtime active community member.

Evans was previously the lead prosecutor on the Ahmaud Arbery case before he resigned in April last year and was replaced with Senior Assistant District Attorney Linda Dunikoski.

Evans has also worked on other well-known legal cases such as the prosecution of Justin Harris Ross in 2016.

A statement released by the city Wednesday says the following:

During a departmental meeting today, City of Acworth Chief of Police Wayne Dennard announced his intentions to retire from the City of Acworth in April of 2023 and that Cobb County’s former Chief Assistant District Attorney, Jesse Evans has been tapped to fill the role.

In his remarks to the police staff, Dennard acknowledged the great working relationship he has not only with his colleagues at the police department, but with the other city leaders including the elected officials and City Manager, James Albright.

“Because of open and transparent communications between our leadership in the city, succession has been a topic for discussion for several months as I began thinking about my next season in life,” Dennard said.

“It is because of the relationships and selfless love for this community that we enjoy as a team of leaders, that we were able to conclude that it would be in the city’s best interest to begin the process of appointing Acworth’s next Chief of Police well before Dennard’s departure. Realizing that we wanted to continue our upward trajectory of progressive leadership and at the same time bring in a leader who is close to and loves our community, an extraordinary person came to mind,” said City Manager James Albright.

Chief Evans is currently the Chief Assistant District Attorney in Paulding County and will begin his employment with the City of Acworth later this summer. Evans has a long list of accolades and accomplishments since graduating with a Juris Doctorate near the top of his class from Mercer University School of Law in 2000. Evans was recognized by the Marietta Daily Journal as one of the “20 Rising Stars Under 40’ in 2010 and again in 2021, ‘20 in Their 40’s.’

Mayor Tommy Allegood said, “Jesse knows the criminal justice system and procedure better than anyone I know. His leadership skills and team-building experience will take the department that Chief Dennard has developed to the next level of community, inclusiveness, and professionalism. Jesse is a student and teacher of leadership that we cannot wait to tap into for our team. He was raised in the City of Acworth, graduated from North Cobb High School, and will be a natural to step in and lead our police department. He will have such a positive impact on our quality of life!”

City Alderman Tim Houston, who serves as co-liaison for the police department to the Board of Aldermen said, “I think Jesse is a great guy and has great leadership ability, and I am excited to bring him on board. He has some big shoes to fill after Dennard’s departure, but I believe our department will do very well under his leadership.”

Dennard will retain the position of Chief until Evans has completed all State mandates and is sworn in. At that point, Dennard will assume a public safety advisory role to oversee the transition until his retirement from the city.

Arielle Robinson is a student at Kennesaw State University. She also freelances for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and is the former president of KSU’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as well as a former CNN intern. She enjoys music, reading, and live shows.