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 personnel "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.