Ga. DNR creating law enforcement division - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Ga. DNR creating law enforcement division

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The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is going ahead with a plan to create a new law enforcement division that will effectively take officers out of state parks. The move comes despite the objections of conservationists and a former DNR official.

Georgia DNR Chairman Robert Leebern announced the vote to deny a petition to repeal the June vote to form a new law enforcement division within the DNR.

"We think it's going to be more efficient. It's going to be more responsive, and we certainly want to insure the safety of our constituents and the folks in Georgia that enjoy the great outdoors that we have here in our state," said Leebern.

Conservationist Julie Kennedy filed the petition to repeal the plan. She fears what could happen once that police presence is no longer at state parks.

"People aren't going to act as responsibly at state parks without that constant presence of law enforcement," said Kennedy. "So, what happens when things do start to happen at a state park?"

Larry McSwain is the retired assistant director of DNR's Wildlife Resources Division, and has the same concerns about not having a police presence at state parks. He thinks the current system is more efficient.

"The main issue is they are on site at the parks all the time, and are able to respond to minor problems before they can become major problems," said McSwain.

State DNR officials say they will roll out the creation of its new law enforcement division over the next five years. In that time, they will determine whether some state parks need on-site police presence.

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