Buddy Hill is retiring as chief of the Athens Police Department effective Aug. 28 and will be taking an investigator’s position with the Henderson County District Attorney’s Office beginning in January 2021.
“I look forward to the opportunity I’ve been given,” he said. “I look forward to the next chapter and spending some more time with my kids and grandkids.”
Athens City Manager Elizabeth Borstad said it won’t be easy to replace Hill.
“The City has been blessed to have Chief Hill for so long,” she said. “He has been with the Athens Police Department for 29 years and that type of dedication is rare.”
Hill has been with the City of Athens Police Department his entire career, starting as a patrolman in 1991. In 2003 he was promoted to Assistant Chief and in 2006 he became Chief.
The opportunity to serve his community was a key to Hill’s longevity.
“I was born in Athens,” he said. “I have been in and around Athens my whole life. When you are working to make your home better, that’s incredibly important.”
The value of community has been a central tenet in Hill’s philosophy.
“It is critically important for a law enforcement agency to have the trust of the public,” he said. “I think that we’ve built a very strong community/police relationship.”
Hill pointed to the officers who are now embedded with the Athens Independent School District as an example of that combination of policing and building relationships.
“That program has proven to be very beneficial not only to us, but to the school district,” he said.
The School Resource Officer program is a partnership with the school district with the Athens Police Department providing officers for security and law enforcement.
“Those officers we have in the school have built great relationships with the kids coming through,” he said. “We see the benefits of that.”
As for the department itself, Hill said he is proud of the work in recent years to put a competitive salary structure in place.
“With the support of the City Council, we’ve been able to get our salaries to a point where they are more competitive,” he said, “because hiring in law enforcement now is tough.”
Hill said he is also proud of the team currently at the Athens Police Department.
“They’re a good team,” he said. “We have the support of the community and they’re the reason why.”