DNR won't undo Law En­force­ment Di­vi­sion

The Covington News - - SPORTS - JEFF GILL jgillo@gainesvil­letimes.com

The Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Board isn’t back­ing off its de­ci­sion to cre­ate a sep­a­rate Law En­force­ment Di­vi­sion.

The board voted in a called meet­ing Thurs­day to re­ject a park vol­un­teer’s re­quest to re­peal the rule change, which ba­si­cally sep­a­rated law en­force­ment from the DNR’s Wildlife Re­sources Di­vi­sion.

The pe­ti­tion was filed to voice the Friends of Sweet­wa­ter Creek State Park’s “con­cerns re­gard­ing the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion,” ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease sent be­fore the hear­ing. The park is in Lithia Springs. Vol­un­teer Julie Kennedy spoke to the board about the con­cerns, which, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, in­cluded the ef­fects of “tak­ing on-site law en­force­ment away from state parks” and DNR per- son­nel “cre­at­ing sup­port let­ters (for the change) on law en­force­ment com­put­ers.”

Also, the “DNR failed to pro­vide ad­di­tional re­quested hear­ings by nu­mer­ous con­ser­va­tion groups. There are many unan­swered ques­tions to date on how parks will main­tain their level of safety.”

The DNR’s vote in June started a process of the Wildlife Re­sources Di­vi­sion’s 204 con­ser­va­tion rangers, pop­u­larly known as game war­dens, be­com­ing part of the new Law En­force­ment Di­vi­sion.

The depart­ment also has about 100 ad­di­tional em­ploy­ees cer­ti­fied as peace of­fi­cers in four other di­vi­sions. Most have other du­ties be­sides law en­force­ment. For th­ese, the tran­si­tion to the new di­vi­sion — or a choice to re­main in their cur­rent di­vi­sions and no longer be law en­force­ment of­fi­cers — has a five-year phase-in pe­riod, end­ing Aug. 1, 2018.

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