By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
State Homeland security groups discuss recent shootings, terrorism at summit
Placeholder Image

State security leaders gathered Tuesday to brief each other on their network of interdepartmental support in counterterrorism and remembering to say something when you see something.

“How many of you know about the Toccoa Four that were arrested, and they’re now doing federal time?” Jerry Rioux asked as a few hands went up at the Hall County Government Center. “That started with a simple telephone call on a tip line.”

Rioux referred to four men who prosecutors believed participated in a domestic terrorism conspiracy.

Rioux and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jeff Roesler presented for the Georgia Information Sharing Analysis Center at Hall County’s second annual Homeland Security Summit Tuesday in Gainesville. The analysis center works as a specialized unit of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Gov. Nathan Deal opened up Tuesday morning’s summit discussing the state’s emergency preparedness for winter weather and other emergencies.

In order for all Georgia residents to have “contingency plans in place for whatever the future may hold,” Deal signed a proclamation to make September National Preparedness Month in Georgia.

During the question-and-answer segment, GBI Director Vernon Keenan addressed a concern about the recent movie theater shootings. Two people died in a July 23 movie theater shooting in Louisiana, and multiple people were injured in a shooting in Tennessee last week.

“The problem we’ve got to deal with is that we’re going to have individuals that are going to decide they want to become an active shooter and inflict mass casualties,” Keenan said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a theater. It can be in a shopping mall. It can be in a service station. It can be anywhere there’s a collection of people.”

Roesler said he’s seen a good amount of change in the last year, as would-be criminal groups in the past would spend a longer time conspiring and that would allow law enforcement to track them.

“What we’ve seen over the past year, whether it’s ISIL and their propaganda, is that time has seriously begun to crunch,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hours. Sometimes it’s minutes.”

Regional events