Todd VandeZande, former assistant police chief in Canton, will be taking over in Hiram Monday after the departure of Chief Gary Yandura, who will become the inaugural police chief of the city of Brookhaven.
City council members voted unanimously for VandeZande at a special called meeting Thursday. The Hiram city charter gives the city manager the discretion of hiring a police chief with the council’s approval, so City Manager Robbie Rokovitz was able to move quickly to hire Yandura’s replacement.
Rokovitz selected VandeZande because of his “proven leadership and professional credentials,” according to a news release from Hiram.
“While I received a lot of interest from internal and external candidates, VandeZande has the precise combination as an academic and practitioner to serve as the chief law enforcement official of our municipal agency,” Rokovitz said in the release.
VandeZande has 23 years of experience in different metro Atlanta police departments, including Woodstock and Marietta. He was in the running for other positions with different governments, which is how Hiram found him and led to him being offered the job, Rokovitz said.
VandeZande was fired last fall from his job in Canton, but Rokovitz said the action had no bearing on his decision to recommend him for the position.
The new chief filed a lawsuit in which he stated he was wrongly terminated for not running an illegal background check for a top Canton city official.
“That litigation was justified,” Rokovitz told a reporter.
The lawsuit was to clear his name and not to gain money, Rokovitz said.
VandeZande declined comment and referred questions to Rokovitz.
VandeZande earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration, both from Kennesaw State University.
He also earned advanced law enforcement certifications from the Georgia Police Officers Standards and Training Council, and is a graduate of the University of Louisville, Southern Police Institute and Columbus State University, Professional Management Program, according to the news release.
“The men and women of the Hiram Police Department will continue to nurture the communal bonds strengthened during Chief Yandura’s tenure,” VandeZande said in a statement.