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New public safety director to start Jan. 21

Justin Gaines becomes the new director of UNG's Department of Public Safety, including uniform patrol (some of whom are pictured above at last year's 9/11 ceremony), communications, emergency preparedness and investigations.

Justin Gaines has been selected as the new director of public safety for the University of North Georgia and will begin work in this role on Jan. 21.

Justin Gaines
Justin Gaines has served as
associate director of emergency
preparedness at Georgia College &
State University since 2011.

Gaines, who was hired by Georgia College & State University (GCSU) in 2005 as a police officer, has served as the school's associate director of emergency preparedness since 2011. In that role, Gaines managed and directed a comprehensive emergency preparedness and occupational safety program.

"We are delighted to have Justin Gaines join our team at the University of North Georgia," said Mac McConnell, UNG's senior vice president for business and finance. "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."  

While at GCSU, Gaines worked to expand the school's emergency communications and notifications systems, including securing grants and partnerships to purchase new equipment. He also commanded emergency response during several real-life situations, including a report of an armed person threatening students, a bomb threat and multiple severe weather threats.

"This is a position of great responsibility, one with which I will not take lightly," Gaines said. "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."

Gaines earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in public administration from GCSU and also completed Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Basic Mandate at the Middle Georgia Police Academy in Macon, Ga. Gaines has specialized training in many areas, including how to respond to various emergency situations, and is a trained emergency medical responder.

He also served on various University System of Georgia committees for projects such as emergency planning review and updating the system's active shooter video. Gaines also is a member of the Georgia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

Deputy Chief Clifford Poole, who has been serving as UNG's interim chief of police since Dec. 1, will continue in an interim role until Gaines takes office on Jan. 21. Gaines succeeds Michael Stapleton, who retired in November after 12 years as UNG's director of public safety.

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