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Class Notes: North Georgias police prepare for upcoming school year, merger
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The consolidation of two of the region’s higher education institutions also means school public safety departments have to gear up for the increase in student traffic.

The Public Safety Department at North Georgia College & State University is preparing to become the “departmental communications hub” of the new university that will be created when North Georgia consolidates with Gainesville State College in January.

Currently, North Georgia’s communication system has more than 400 cameras installed throughout the campus.

The system, when the two schools merge, will be advanced as well.

“We will be adding many new cameras and expanding the communications system in virtually every way,” communications supervisor Paul Bennett said.

Kate Maine, spokeswoman for the school, said the details of how the department will work following the consolidation are still unclear, but it is one of the things being hashed out before next year.

But while the department is preparing for the consolidation, the university’s police force is getting ready for this school year as well.

Chief Mike Stapleton recently attended the 2012 Annual Summer Training conference hosted by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

Heads of law enforcement agencies from throughout the state called the conference home for four days.

“These conferences allow us to look at new tools such as software that enable our department to do more,” Stapleton said.

“We also held a campus chiefs meeting and discussed best practices for safety.”

The conference was held in Savannah late last month and Stapleton, along with almost 500 other heads of law enforcement agencies, learned new tactics and training to enhance their individual departments.

A 17-man force patrols the North Georgia campus of 6,300.

The department has received various awards recently, including an award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for “dedication to DUI enforcement,” an award from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations for “fighting Internet crimes against children,” and a $10,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for traffic safety enforcement.

Lee Johnson covers education issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: