SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Interim Chief Lenny Gunther will take over the position permanently as chief of the Savannah Police Department, the city announced Thursday.

Gunther has served the interim role since July 29, when Chief Roy Minter stepped down to focus on his nomination for United States Marshal for the Southern District of Georgia.

City Manager Joseph Melder made Gunther’s appointment after a national search, saying he “stood out as the right chief at the right time for Savannah.”

“Chief Gunther is a proven leader who is committed to installing proven policing strategies, technology, and practices to SPD,” Melder stated. He said Gunther has already increased morale, improved recruitment and retention, and earned the community’s trust.

“He embodies what it means to be a servant leader and brings a commonsense approach that couples well with his visionary embrace of the latest in technology and alternative intervention measures,” the city manager said. “I am proud to name him Savannah’s permanent police chief.”

Gunther has been with SPD since 2001, first serving as a patrol officer. In 2019, he was promoted to assistant chief.

He served in the U.S. Army Reserve for eight years and is a graduate of Webster University and the FBI National Academy.

Gunther stated:

Being selected as the City of Savannah’s Police Chief is the culmination of years of work in this community and I am extremely proud to lead the public servants of this department and serve the residents of Savannah as their police chief. I have worked my way from the bottom of this department to the top job and I could not have done so without an amazing team of leaders along the way who chose to invest in me. Moving forward, the officers of our department should know that it is my job to develop the next generation of leaders and instill in them a passion for serving all Savannahians.

Gunther’s appointment to chief takes effect immediately. He’ll be sworn in as the chief at 6 p.m. on Jan. 10 at the Cultural Arts Center (201 Montgomery St.).