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New safety director to oversee UNG

Gaines to start Jan. 21

POSTED: January 5, 2014 8:49 p.m.

The start of a new year will also see a new director of public safety for the University of North Georgia.

Beginning Jan. 21, Justin Gaines will serve the university encompassing Dahlonega, Gainesville, Cumming and Oconee campuses.

Gaines brings to the role education and experience from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, where he served as the associate director of emergency preparedness, as well as earning his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree in public administration.

“I’m really excited about starting,” Gaines said. “I’m excited about the opportunity and eager to get plugged into a new community. That was one of the things I was looking for when taking the next step from associate director to director — where could I plug in and serve the best way I can. That’s really the biggest thing for me. I really want to get into the seat and learn what needs to be done first,” he added.

Gaines’ background in commanding emergency response during threatening real-life situations includes a bomb threat, report of an armed person and many instances of severe weather.

He is also a member of the Georgia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and a trained emergency medical responder.

“We are delighted to have Justin Gaines join our team at the University of North Georgia,” said Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Mac McConnell in a news release. “He will lead our own group of highly trained and qualified officers, dispatchers and staff in a highly effective manner. His expertise in emergency preparedness, communication protocol and environmental health and safety will provide immediate value for our campuses.”

Michael Stapleton, who retired in November, previously held the position for 12 years.

Until Gaines officially starts, Deputy Chief Clifford Poole will continue in an interim role as chief of police.

“Chief Stapleton, from what I can gather, has done a great job with the department and has left me a lot of great people and I think there’s a lot of talent (there). The department right now has a lot of potential to continue towards being a very proficient and effective department for the university, so I’m pleased with what I’ve seen so far,” Gaines said, adding he is “very excited and eager to get started on new projects.”

“This is a position of great responsibility, one which I will not take lightly,” Gaines stated in the release.

“I consider it my honor and privilege to have the opportunity to lead the Department of Public Safety so that we may protect, serve, and educate the University of North Georgia faculty, staff and students.”


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