A large crowd gathered on March 30 for a ribbon-cutting for the new University of North Georgia (UNG) Public Safety facility on the Dahlonega Campus.
The new space provides specialized environments for detectives and emergency dispatchers, plus a locker room and a break room for officers. A classroom serves as space for professional development and a staging area in emergencies, UNG Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Greg Williams said.
“It’s ultimately about the professional service that we provide our students, faculty, staff, visitors, and campus communities, and that’s keeping people safe,” Williams said. “That’s what we do every day.”
Williams added that even before its official opening, the facility, located off Morrison Moore Parkway, served as a training location for public safety professionals from across the region and students in the Public Safety Academy. It will also allow UNG employees to collaborate with Public Safety to solve community problems.
It’s ultimately about the professional service that we provide our students, faculty, staff, visitors, and campus communities, and that’s keeping people safe.
Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police
“The project was a true win-win for many constituents. For the local economy, we were able to use a vacant building site that had sat vacant for over a year and provide public safety access to a very convenient location,” Dr. Ken Crowe, assistant vice president for facilities said. “For UNG, we were able to provide the needed space for public safety at a cost savings as opposed to constructing a brand new facility. And certainly for UNG Public Safety and the UNG community, we now have a substantially larger state-of-the-art facility that will serve our campuses for many years to come.”
Renovation on the former Steak ’n Shake building began in late February 2020 just before the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNG provided the entire renovation budget of $2.5 million for the home of 62 public safety employees across five campuses.
The former restaurant’s design worked well for a law enforcement agency. An additional 3,250 square feet was added to the vacant structure, creating a 7,000-square-foot facility, which is almost a 100% increase from the former area used by the Public Safety department.
“The operations center is also hardened, meaning it can withstand severe weather, so our dispatchers can continue their critical mission despite the weather conditions, because we still want somebody to answer that phone when we need help,” Williams said.
Cutting-edge technology within the dispatch center will simultaneously serve all five UNG campuses and support their surrounding communities. Dispatchers can send help, monitor alarms and cameras, and send help via radio to any of these campuses.
The old Public Safety facility was demolished to make way for the Cottrell Center for Business, Technology & Innovation.
Williams recognized previous leaders of UNG Public Safety, including Clyde Horning, Fred Hooper, Charlie Jackson, Jr., Randy Chester, John Gaissert, Mike Stapleton, and Justin Gaines.
“We’re a better department today because of their great leadership and stewardship over the past 52 years,” Williams said.