Wilkie, 55, accepted a position with Bob Jones University, a Christian university in Greenville, S.C. He will stay with the department until the end of the month. Major Wayne Dennard will be promoted to chief of police, pending a vote next Thursday by the Acworth Board of Aldermen.
Wilkie, an alumnus of Bob Jones University, said he informed the university last December in his annual holiday greetings of the doctorate he had just earned from Valdosta State University. Subsequent conversations led to the university offering him the job of director of its criminal justice program on Friday, he said.
“I’ve been in Acworth almost 10 years and law enforcement 25 years,” Wilkie said Wednesday. “I’m looking forward at this opportunity to now take some of that experience and background into the classroom and teach some Christian young people.”
A native of Atlanta, Wilkie was first appointed Acworth police chief on Dec. 16, 2002.
He previously served as chief of police for Springdale, S.C., and Jonesville, S.C. He has also been a member of the criminal justice faculty for the University of Phoenix, according to his official biography.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree from BJU, he holds a master’s degree in criminal justice degree from the University of South Carolina and a master of public administration from Columbus State University. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy and served in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said Wilkie informed him of his resignation over the weekend.
“It’s a great opportunity for Mike,” Allegood said.
The five-member Acworth Board of Aldermen is expected to approve the city manager’s recommendation that Dennard be promoted to chief at their regular meeting at 7 p.m. April 19 at City Hall. After approval by the aldermen, he will immediately be sworn in as chief.
“When I started here, I would have been happy just being a patrol officer,” Dennard said Wednesday. “I’ve enjoyed my time here and quite honestly, if I could afford it, I’d do it for free. I love this community and this department. It’s been a great experience.”
Dennard, 50, has been with the Acworth Police Department for his entire nine-year law enforcement career, beginning as a patrol officer. He previously worked in the security industry.
A 1980 Sprayberry High School graduate, he holds a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Thomas University in Thomasville. In May, he expects to graduate with a master of public administration from Columbus State University. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
As police chief, he will oversee a department with 40 sworn officers, plus 16 civilian employees. The city has its own jail facility and is planning to build a new police headquarters.
“Chief Wilkie has put us on a good course, and I just have to hold the wheel steady,” Dennard said.
Dennard and his wife, Melinda, have been married 17 years. He has a grown daughter and grown son, who was a Cobb police officer, in addition to two daughters who attend North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw. He also has two grandchildren.
The thing Wilkie said he is most proud of is the stability with which he leaves the police department, he said.
“The men and women of our department have really gotten a vision for the community-oriented philosophy that we tried to deliver our law enforcement services,” Wilkie said. “We’ve won several statewide awards and recognitions because of it. They have been good police officers, and I’m just proud to have had the chance to work with them for the last 10 years.”