By Joe Johnson
Jeff Clarke, who served with the Athens-Clarke Police Department for two decades before becoming deputy police chief for the University of Georgia in 2001, was recently promoted to UGA's police chief.
While at the ACCPD, Clark held multiple leadership positions, including lieutenant for the special victims unit family protection center, robbery, homicide and forensics units, and deputy chief of police. Clark has also led the ACCPD Criminal Investigation Division, among other high-profile units, and has directly overseen as many as 200 sworn officers at a time. Before joining the ACCPD, he was a sergeant in the U.S. Army.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity with UGAPD,” said Clark, who began in his new position Aug. 1. “We have some of the finest officers in the state of Georgia and in the country. I want to continue building a police department with 21st century policing values in mind. And what I mean by that is I want an agency that focuses on building trust with our community and campus partners, an agency that addresses health and wellness with the officers and an agency that seeks innovative training and technology ideas.”
Clark became UGA’s first deputy chief for engagement, training and standards in 2021. In this role, he has worked to align community needs and expectations, implement best practices in policing, and further develop departmental strategies and goals through outreach programs, including engagement with students and parents through UGA’s annual orientation programs.
Clark’s diverse experience and community-minded approach align seamlessly with the UGAPD’s philosophy in fulfilling its law enforcement and public safety responsibilities. This has helped to improve communication and teamwork between UGA and Athens-Clarke County, resulting in proactive problem-solving and better-informed responses.
“Clark’s extensive background in outreach, policy, human resources, operations and fiscal affairs; his long-standing commitment to ensuring the safety of the UGA and Athens communities; and the very positive feedback I received about Clark throughout the search process give me complete confidence in Jeff’s ability to serve and thrive as UGA’s Chief of Police,” said Ryan Nesbit, vice president for finance and administration. “I am excited and look forward to working with him to build on the exceptionally strong foundation of leadership and service that currently exists in the UGAPD.”
Clark is a graduate of the prestigious FBI National Academy. He is also a member of the American Polygraph Association and a Georgia Command College graduate. Clark holds an associate of science degree from Western International University, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Phoenix, and a master’s degree in public safety administration from Columbus State University.
Clark’s appointment comes on the heels of former chief Dan Silk being promoted to UGA’s associate vice president for public safety (AVPPS) earlier this year.
“I am deeply grateful for the time and effort invested in this process by the search committee, which was chaired by Mike Raeber, university general counsel, and assisted by the external search firm Spelman Johnson and the UGA Search Group,” Nesbit said. “I also want to express my deepest thanks to Dan Silk, who has served as UGA’s chief of police since 2018 and has continued to serve as both chief and AVPPS since March.”
Following Clark’s appointment, Silk will focus entirely on his duties as the AVPPS, where he will continue to work closely with Clark and the director of emergency preparedness to oversee the university’s strategic campus public safety operations.
As chief of police, Clark will be responsible for law enforcement, public safety and managing a broad scope of operations that support UGA’s academic and student life missions.