|New state laws on
school violence effective
comprehensive new law, recommended by the Georgia
Emergency Management Agency to target school
violence in Georgia, will go into effect July 1.
Bill 74 will require every public school in the
state to develop and implement a wide-ranging
safety plan to address acts of violence, acts of
terrorism, natural disasters, hazardous materials
and radiological incidents.
violence has become a very real issue in Georgia,
which is among the top ten states in the nation
for violent death in the school setting,
said GEMA director Gary W. McConnell. This
new law will enable GEMA to continue its work
with local school systems and public safety
personnel to find ways to prevent these
incidents, and be better prepared to respond to
them effectively when they occur.
appreciate Gov. Roy E. Barnes' leadership and the
strong support of the General Assembly in
addressing this crisis, McConnell added.
said the emergency plans are to be drawn up based
on input from teachers and school personnel,
community leaders, local law enforcement, fire
service and other public safety officials, and
emergency management agencies, as well as
students, and parents and guardians. Private
schools are not required to have safety plans,
but GEMA strongly encourages them to develop and
implement plans at their discretion.
new law also requires GEMA to develop a model
safety plan as a guide for local schools, and to
provide training and technical assistance to
public school systems to develop these plans. It
allows GEMA to perform the same service for
private schools, at their request.
training and technical assistance includes crisis
response team development, site surveys and
safety audits, crisis management planning,
exercise design, safe school planning, emergency
operations planning, search and seizure, bomb
threat management and model school safety plans.
legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Richard
Marable of Rome and steered through the House of
Representatives by Jeannette Jamieson of Toccoa.
Barnes signed it into law in April.
date, GEMA's Consequence Management Section has
trained nearly 5,000 educators and public safety
personnel in school safety planning. The training
has been conducted both on an individual basis in
communities around the state and through a series
of seminars on emergency management in Georgia's
schools, conducted at the Georgia Public Safety
Training Center at Forsyth.
Bill 51, which also will go into effect July 1,
will set new training and certification standards
for local emergency management directors or
deputy directors hired after that date. They will
be required to undergo initial training within
six months after appointment, and ultimately
become Certified Emergency Managers. They will
also be required to undergo a minimum of 24 hours
of continuing education per year to maintain
measure, Senate Bill 170, proposed by the
Association of County Commissioners of Georgia
and supported by GEMA, will correct a glitch in
current law that had prevented the collection of
emergency fund surcharge on cellular phone bills
in Georgia, but with out-of-state codes. This was
a problem in border counties, particularly in
law also creates a registry within GEMA, and
cellular phone providers will have to register.
This is intended to assist local 911 agencies in
identifying the providers that will serve their
part of the governor's office, GEMA is the lead
state agency for the coordination of state
resources for disaster and emergency response.
The agency also is responsible for the
development of mitigation projects to reduce the
impact of disasters, and for a variety of
training initiatives for emergency managers and
other public safety personnel.