New Acworth chief clears strip club tie
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@mdjonline.com
April 19, 2012 04:50 PM | 4780 views | 9 9 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ACWORTH — Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said Major Wayne Dennard, who is expected to be sworn in as police chief tonight, has his and the aldermen’s complete confidence despite his involvement with a Marietta strip club two decades ago.

For his part, Dennard has distanced himself from the club, saying he has long since changed his lifestyle.

“I was, two decades ago, involved in the peripheral of an establishment that in my eyes is less than of standard moral character,” Dennard said. “More than being concerned by the family-values part, my focus in life and business at that time was fueled by greed. That’s where my main sin is. My fault would have been fueled by greed.”

Dennard said his former wife, Brenda, was involved in operating the Cyprus Lounge on Canton Highway in Marietta during their marriage, and that his association was limited to his name being on documents.

He worked in the security business from 1987 to 2007, while his ex-wife was involved in the Cyprus Lounge, Dennard said. He said his name was listed on the liquor license, but that was the extent of his involvement.

“I was around from time to time, but spent little time in the establishment,” he said.

Dennard said he never profited from the club and severed any ties to it through a quitclaim deed in his 1995 divorce proceedings.

“I changed my life around and have given my life to Christ,” Dennard said.

“I am embarrassed by my past, no doubt about that,” he said. “I’m ashamed of it. I hate talking about it, unless I believe God can use it to help somebody else.”

Dennard, 50, has worked his entire nine-year law enforcement career with the Acworth Police Department, rising through the ranks. A 1980 Sprayberry High School graduate, he is expected to receive a master’s in public administration from Columbus State University next month. He is also a FBI National Academy graduate.

He has been married nearly 17 years to his current wife, Melinda, and has four children.

Dennard is expected to be unanimously approved and sworn in as the new police chief when the city Board of Aldermen meet to vote on his three-year, $80,500 contract at 7 p.m. tonight at City Hall at 4415 Senator Russell Ave.

Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said he only learned about Dennard’s connection to the strip club a week ago, but that some aldermen may have known about it for a while. Either way, the mayor said he and the aldermen discussed the matter and that Dennard has their complete confidence.

“He’s passed every background check,” the mayor said. “I think that was just a brief time that he was associated with that.”

As for whether the public should have been made aware of Dennard’s full background before now, Allegood said the situation has had no bearing on his performance with the department.

“It’s just something that’s in his past,” Allegood said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with his qualifications to be chief of police. There’s no reason to disclose that.”

Chief Michael Wilkie recently resigned to become director of the criminal justice program at Bob Jones University, a Christian university in Greenville, S.C.

Wilkie said he personally hired Dennard as a patrol officer and was fully aware of his past association with the strip club. He continues to support Dennard’s promotion to chief of police and said other city officials were made aware of his past.

“I was well aware of it ten years ago when I hired him,” Wilkie said. “He was never an owner and never involved in it. In fact, back in that time frame, that’s when Wayne Dennard had the religious experience of coming to Christ.”

City Manager Brian Bulthuis, who recommended Dennard for police chief, said he decided to promote from within rather than look at outside candidates to preserve continuity.

According to the city of Marietta’s business license division, the Cyprus Lounge closed in 2003. The only current strip club operating in the city is Boomer’s on Cobb Parkway.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Marietta’s city ordinance that requires a club to choose between having nude dancers and serving liquor, after the Cyprus Lounge, Boomer’s and Taj Mahal filed a suit against the city. The ordinance was adopted in 1995 and remains in effect.

The Cyprus Lounge opted to forfeit its liquor license and keep the nude dancing, said Doug Haynie, city attorney for both Marietta and Acworth.

Haynie said he’s not concerned about Dennard’s past.

“My experience with the police-chief-to-be is that he’s a first-class guy and he’ll do a great job,” he said.
Comments
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Tex GFrield
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April 22, 2012
This is a joke. Another guy who is to enforce the laws who cant follow them. What a clown act this state is.
MCWrock
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April 20, 2012
Even out of a thousand candidates, Dennard is the best man for the job. If that's the only thing they can come up with about the man in 20 years, then that's great. He was ONLY associated with it by association, that's it, but still man enough to ackowledge it and better yet use the experience to further the Good News of Jesus Christ. The whole thing (this story) is supposed to advocate he somehow has a moral standards problem, when nothing could be further than the truth. I am 1000% convinced his moral character is higher than most people I know. He always, always gives credit for anything good in him or the great things he has done to Christ. He is a great example of someone who has become less of himself and making Christ more. Who can you honestly say that about? When we repent and Christ forgives, He washes us white as snow, he also forgets and separates our sin as far as the East is from the West. If we asked for forgiveness one day, then again the next day, God wouldn't even know what we were talking about.... So if that's the best you got, one small part of me says "bring it MDJ", but the other 99%.of me says.GET A LIFE MDJ, what could possibly be your motive in trying to make issue of a non- issue against such a great man filled with the love and nature of Christ, and the best possible man for the job. You wait and see, the results will speak for themselves: Dennard will maintain the current culture while creating a new culture of integrity and instilled leadership that trickles down to every officer, not before seen in a city department. I think Marietta must just be jealous... By the way, it is ironic, if you don't type the letters correctly in the security.confirmation boxes to leave a post with MDJ, they will tell you "you have failed the human test, however you are, afterall, only human, try again... " Thank you Chief Dennard, the people in Acworth are blessed to have you!
Just Wait
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April 22, 2012
Let me just say, most inmates in the prisons have "found God." Would you want one of them as your Chief of Police?
MCWrock
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April 25, 2012
Don't generalize, I never said or implied that because he has found God that he needs to be Chief of Police. Furthermore, your comparison of his current moral character and integrity as it relates to his past, with that of a person convicted of a crime and imprisoned is pathetically absurd. That is to say nothing against those who have previously been inmates, it's just that the comparison is ridiculous.
Concerned Acworth
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April 19, 2012
Most folks involved in strip club operations are not law abidding folks. The sex trade, drug trade and other crimes occur in the strip clubs. I am sure most men have been to a strip club at one point in their lifes. This club didn't have a good name in the community.

However, to own or have an ex-wife own a club is questionable and to have the liquor license in your name, is more than a limited person involved in that business. Why,didn't your wife have her name on the liquor licenses, my guess would be she couldn't get it in her name cause she was convicted on a crime. This person is fully involved and makes decesions about the business.

The main question is 9 years of law enforcement and now a cheif of police for a department in a big county. He is the city council puppet and will do what they want him to do, which causes a new issue. To my knowledge Denard has not spent one day on the road, he has been a desk jockey for 9 years.

Which equals no experience in law enforcement and dealing with crime. He states he has been in the security field, my question what does that mean?

As a resident of Acworth this is concerning to me that someone has never been a real police officer and been in the trenches of crime. I will be watching this appointment by council memebers and let them know when things are dontwrong...I am active and will watch...I am concerned this is a political appointment by Mayor Allgood, he needs to go as well...Dirt is Dirt
Old Old Old Guy
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April 19, 2012
Back in the day MDJ reporters used to go skinny dipping with Virginia Hill...right Bill?
Just Wait
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April 19, 2012
I curious how someone with only 8 years of police experience, even with a college degree, has moved up so fast that he is ready to be chief already. Seems there may be more going on here.
Porter Versfelt III
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April 19, 2012
Sounds like the MDJ is drawing at straws here. The strip club angle is a non-starter, especially after so many years.

I wonder how many MDJ editors, reporters and photographers have gone to strip clubs in their lives? ;)
Ogle Eye
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April 19, 2012
I seem to remember reading a story by Bill Kinney about his visit to the Taj Mahal
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