Valdosta names first female police chief

March 1, 2019
2 mins read
Valdosta names first female police chief

Valdosta Police Department Interim Chief Leslie Manahan has been appointed Chief of Police, effective March 1. Originally from Marietta, Manahan moved to Valdosta in 1990 to attend Valdosta State University and graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Education.

Manahan began her career at the Valdosta Police Department in 1997 as a Patrol Officer. Following that Manahan moved through the ranks of the Valdosta Police Department from Field Training Officer to Road Sergeant and then to Lieutenant of the Investigations Unit. In 2013, Manahan was appointed Commander of the Investigations Bureau.

“This was my first job as a Police Officer. I’ve spent my whole career with the City of Valdosta. The Valdosta Police Department is an incredible department and I’ve been given many opportunities to grow within different positions. I think it has made me a well-rounded leader. I’m excited about this new opportunity with the Valdosta Police Department and for all of the other opportunities I have been provided with by the City of Valdosta,” said Chief Manahan.

“Leslie stepped in as interim during the search for a permanent Police Chief. Her transition from Commander of the Investigations Bureau to her role as Interim Chief was seamless. We had a field of exceptional candidates from all over the country apply for the position, which made the final selection a very difficult decision. During the interview process, Manahan’s leadership and dedication to the department set her apart. Chief Manahan’s will allow our existing personnel to maintain their current focus and provide the Valdosta Police Department with opportunities to grow,” said City Manager Mark Barber.

“With nearly 22 years of law enforcement experience, all of which has been spent in Valdosta, Leslie Manahan is uniquely qualified to address the public safety needs and concerns of our community. I am thrilled to have a career employee with the City of Valdosta and someone who has served in nearly every role at VPD, now lead the department as Chief of Police,” said Barber.

In 2011, Manahan was awarded the opportunity to attend the FBI National Academy. This program is thought to be one of the toughest training programs in law enforcement. After completing the 10-week training program, Manahan joined the ranks of only one percent of law enforcement who are accepted into the academy.

More recently, in May of 2018, Manahan was awarded a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Command College at Columbus State University. The 12-week program, which spans over two years, is designed to prepare government personnel to be future leaders and/or prepare them for advanced positions. Some of the program courses include fiscal management in public finance, liability reduction, media relations, leadership, human resource management, and development.

“I’ve worked side by side with many of our officers, I know the roles and demands of the department. We have such a dedicated group of individuals who strive to keep our community safe every day. I am excited to lead the department and know I am prepared for this new role as Police Chief. I am looking forward to continuing the success this department has had over the years,” said Manahan.

Since 2013, Manahan has served as the Commander of the Investigations Bureau which is manned by 29 dedicated men and women assigned as detectives and civilian employees in seven areas of expertise.

These areas consist of the Person’s Crimes Unit, Property Unit, Burglary Unit, Narcotics Unit, Gang Unit, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Property/Evidence Section, and the Administrative Function. Manahan has worked with her team in the investigations division to keep Valdosta above the national average for crime clearance rate.

Manahan oversaw the investigation of all major crimes in the city and was responsible for assisting the Chief of Police with planning, budgeting, and managing the overall operation of the police department.

“Public Safety is extremely important to the City of Valdosta and someone of Leslie Manahan’s character and experience will allow current staff to continue to work at the best of their abilities to protect the public,” said Valdosta Mayor John Gayle.

“I am confident that under Chief Manahan’s dedicated leadership, the Valdosta Police Department will continue to work diligently in protecting our community against crime and ensure the department is able to meet the growing needs of our community. Chief Manahan has grown through the ranks of VPD over the last 22 years and remains committed to ensuring the safety of everyone in Valdosta.”

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