The Paulding County Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Public Safety Awards at the September Georgia Power Luncheon. Going along with the theme of public safety the keynote speaker was Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan.
He said it was important for chambers and other civic groups to honor their local law enforcement because with more than 800,000 officers in the U.S. the one who matters most to residents are the ones that come when they call 9-1-1.
“Our job is to provide support and assistance to all of them,” Keenan said.
During his speech he spoke about some current issues law enforcement in the state is facing.
“In the past decade in Georgia we have had a 5 percent decrease in crime,” he said.
When crime goes down budget cuts for law enforcement agencies follow, he said. The problem with that is the crimes are becoming more complex through the use of technology, he said.
“It requires more training now than it ever has,” Keenan said.
He said there also is more danger facing officers now. Every 53 hours a law enforcement officer dies in the line of duty in the U.S. Three officers in Georgia have died this year. The GBI investigates most cases in which an officer is fired upon, whether they are killed or survive.
Also the GBI oversees the state’s medical examiners who conduct more than 3,000 autopsies each year. A trend they have found is people are dying six times more often from prescription drugs than illegal drugs. There were 520 prescription drug deaths last year in Georgia, and only 72 from illegal drugs.
“Not everyone dies, but it still puts a demand on public safety,” Keenan said.
After his speech the chamber gave out its annual public safety awards, which were announced by the heads of each department in the county.
The award recipients included, Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, Al Gonzalez; Paulding County Fire Department, Sam Ballard; Dallas Police Department, Detective Sgt. Bill Gorman; Hiram Police Department, Lt. Brian Acree; Paulding County Marshal’s Bureau, Sgt. Tony Collum; Paulding County District Attorney’s Office, Investigator Monica Moore and Paulding County E911, Dianne Chandler.