Ferguson: Leader has experience in growing city

Huntersville’s search for its next police chief ended March 31.

Town Manager Greg Ferguson hired Cleveland Spruill, formerly the deputy police chief in Alexandria, Va., to lead the town’s police department starting May 5.

Spruill had 26 years of experience in the police department at Alexandria, whose population of 150,000 is three times that of Huntersville.

Ferguson and town staff began seeking a police chief when former chief Phil Potter unexpectedly retired last August. Potter had been Huntersville’s chief for nine years.

His retirement didn’t last long. Potter joined the police department in Alcoa, Tenn. in October and has been the police chief in Alcoa since then.

A vetting process that spanned more than four months and more than 100 candidates from departments across the country led Ferguson to hire Spruill.

“He did a good job explaining his management background, his commitment to community safety and how he engages himself with the community,” Ferguson said. “He’s demonstrated leadership in his department. He worked for several different divisions during his time there, so he got a lot of experience. He’s well rounded and a good communicator, which are two important aspects of the job. When we finished with the interviewing process, we believed we’d found the right fit.”

Spruill worked in a number of Alexandria Police Department bureaus, including patrol operations, administrative services, special operations and investigations.

Spruill, in a town release, thanked Huntersville staff for giving him the chance to serve. Spruill said he is excited personally and professionally for the new job.

“I had the opportunity to meet with Huntersville Police Department staff throughout the selection process,” Spruill said, “and I am honored to have been selected to lead this team.”

Ferguson said Spruill applied for the job in December and went for a ride-along with an HPD officer that same month. Spruill’s experience working for a police department in a city larger than Huntersville’s was another plus in his application.

“That’s definitely one thing that he brings to the table,” Ferguson said. “Alexandria hasn’t always had that many people. He’s seen a city and a (police) department grow to meet that city’s needs. That’s definitely an asset that’s in his favor. It’s just a piece of the whole puzzle, but his expertise in managing a growing department is definitely a good thing to have.”

There won’t be any residual impact of adding Spruill with regard to the town’s ongoing homicide investigation from late February. The investigation into 19-year-old Peter Michael Jordan's death hasn’t been solved, but Ferguson said the town has professional detectives and investigators following the case. Spruill’s arrival in May, Ferguson added, won’t play an immediate role in the case.

“He’ll still have an opportunity to see what’s been done and what progress has been made,” Ferguson added.

Jordan’s family issued a statement March 26, increasing its reward to $9,000 for information involving the case. Crime Stoppers is also offering a $1,000 reward for more information pertaining to the shooting, which happened at The Landings apartment complex in Huntersville.

Spruill’s arrival also means that Assistant Town Manager Gerry Vincent, who has led the town’s public safety efforts since Potter – and Deputy Chief Michael Kee, who left in November – vacated their positions, will return to his primary duty.

Spruill, a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ National Academy, holds a bachelor's degree in administration of justice from Northern Virginia Community College and a master’s degree in management from Johns Hopkins University.

He is also a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The town plans to hold at least one meet-and-greet event with Spruill when he begins his job in May. According to the release, Spruill played a role in putting together Alexandria’s Strategic Response System model of policing, which gave the city a 40-year record low crime rate.

Spruill has served as Alexandria’s deputy police chief since 2006. He’s most recently headed APD’s investigations bureau.