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Badge & Bar: State emergency management officials attend Hall County summit

POSTED: August 7, 2014 12:25 a.m.

Officials from every sector of Georgia emergency management gathered Tuesday at the Hall County Government Center in Gainesville for briefings related to homeland security.

More than 100 people responded for the summit featuring the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia State Patrol and several other agencies.

GEMA Director Charley English started the briefings, with this year’s winter storms dominating much of his time at the podium.

Two major developments since the winter storms have been the advancement of the wireless emergency alert system as well as updates to the Ready Georgia app. The app, available in both the Android and Apple markets, expanded beyond its original intentions in June in preparation for hurricane season.

“It’s gone from just preparedness to warning and alerts and road conditions,” English said.

English said there would be a Nov. 17-18 winter preparedness exercise.

Outside of emergency preparedness and funding opportunities in local divisions, multiple speakers discussed domestic terrorism.

With 12 years separating the U.S. from the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Special Agent in Charge Scott Dutton of the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center expressed the need for vigilance.

“It’s very easy to take your eye off the ball,” Dutton said. “At GISAC, we keep our eyes on the ball.”

GISAC, an intelligence center in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, gathers information for local, state and federal law enforcement agencies for counterterrorism purposes.

Department of Juvenile Justice announces ombudsman unit

The Department of Juvenile Justice announced last week the creation of an ombudsman unit, an office for youth in custody and their guardians for investigating complaints.

Commissioner Avery Niles said the program will allow families of young Georgia offenders in prison to speak with a separate office instead of prison officials.

Responses to outside inquiries will come through phone calls, letters or personal visits from customer service agents investigating the complaints.

The new unit also allows Georgia youth inside the Juvenile Justice Department’s facilities to seek out the ombudsman if they believe they have not received adequate resolutions.

Nick Watson covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:



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