Darin Schierbaum, with fiance’ Richard Castellanos at his side, is sworn in as Atlanta’s 26th police chief by Atlanta Municipal Court Judge Crystal Gaines. Mayor Andre Dickens is at right. (City of Atlanta)

A special swearing-in ceremony for Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum was held Dec. 7 at City Hall.

Schierbaum was named the city’s 26th police chief by Mayor Andre Dickens in October after a nationwide search. He was already serving as interim chief following the retirement of former chief Rodney Bryant in June.

“We wanted a strong, capable leader to head the largest law enforcement agency in the state of Georgia,” Dickens said at the swearing-in ceremony. “But we soon realized that the leader we wanted has been with us all along. Chief Darin Schierbaum has proved that he is the right person at the right time to lead the men and women of the Atlanta Police Department.

“I trust him and I respect him,” Dickens said.

Hours before the swearing-in ceremony, APD announced the arrests of two teenagers charged with killing Zyion Charles, 12, and Cameron Jackson, 15. The two boys were fatally shot over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend on the 17th Street bridge near the busy Atlantic Station retail district. Police say the shootings were gang-related.

Schierbaum said the killings and arrests of the boys and teens mark “a pivotal time” for the Atlanta Police Department in a battle to defeat gang violence.

“We’re serving because we are in a battle for the future, the soul of our young people, our children,” Schierbaum said.

“This police department announced the arrests of a 15- and 16-year-old that had taken the lives of a 12 and a 15-year-old,” he said. “This is why we serve, ladies and gentlemen. The gangs cannot and will not steal the souls of our children. We will fight.”

Other speakers at the ceremony included City Council President Doug Shipman; Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis; Atlanta Police Foundation CEO Dave Wilkinson; and Chris Wright, a colonel in the Georgia State Patrol and commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum. Schierbaum joined the department in 2002 and is the city’s 26th police chief. (City of Atlanta)

Schierbaum joined the Atlanta Police Department in 2002 after 10 years with the Johnson County, Illinois Sheriff’s Department. He graduated as valedictorian of the Atlanta Police Department Academy Class 180 and began his service as a beat officer in Zone 5 in Midtown.

Schierbaum rose through the ranks and in 2009 was commander of the Eastside Atlanta’s Zone 6 morning watch, evening watch, and later Field Investigative Team. In 2010, he was assigned to the newly formed Community Oriented Policing Section (COPS). While at COPS he commanded the Community Liaison Unit, LGBT Liaison Unit, Hispanic Liaison Unit and the Graffiti Abatement Unit. 

He was promoted to deputy chief in 2020 and then to assistant chief in 2022. In June 2022, Dickens appointed him to serve as interim chief.

Schierbaum is the APD’s second openly gay police chief, following Erika Shields, who resigned in 2020.

The entire swearing-in ceremony can be watched at this link.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.