Click to print Close window
Georgia Seal

Governor-Elect Perdue Appoints Bill Hitchens Director of Homeland Security

Wednesday, January 9, 2002  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Major General Poythress, Acting-Director Keenan and Colonel Ellis Reappointed

Atlanta - Governor-Elect Sonny Perdue today announced Bill Hitchens will serve as Director of Homeland Security, Major General David Poythress will continue his service as Adjutant General of Georgia, Vernon Keenan will become Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and G. A. Ellis will continue to serve as Director of the Georgia State Patrol.

Hitchens, who will serve as the state's Director of Homeland Security, will report directly to the Governor and will serve as the point person for all homeland security issues in the State of Georgia.

"Since the events of September 11, Homeland Security has taken a prominent role in the minds of citizens and recent concerns about possible terrorist attacks has made my selection for this position an important one," said Perdue. "Bill can draw upon his thirty plus years of experience and training in public safety to help protect all Georgians and their families. I am confident that he is a tremendous asset for our state."

The Director of Homeland Security will be responsible for the policies, plans, and overall coordination necessary to ensure the people of Georgia are safe and secure from all terrorist threats and attacks within the state's borders. The Director will oversee all risks and threat assessments and coordinate all plans for timely and complete responses through a network of state, local, and federal organizations. In addition, the Homeland Security Director will coordinate all communications plans and procedures necessary for the efficient and timely flow of information.

William W. "Bill" Hitchens, Jr. served four years on active duty with the United States Marine Corps before joining the Georgia State Patrol in May of 1969. While moving up the ranks in the GSP, Hitchens served two years in the USMC Reserve, earned a degree in criminal justice from Georgia Southern University, received graduate credit from the University of Virginia's Masters of Public Administration Program, and graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA. He also served 24 years in the United States Coast Guard Reserve (March 1976- June 2000), retiring with the rank of Commander. During the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, Hitchens served as a law enforcement shift commander responsible for all state law enforcement personnel on duty during a 12-hour watch. He retired from the GSP as a Major, South Division Adjutant in June of 1997. He his since served three years on the Governor's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (July1997- July 2000). Hitchens has accumulated hundreds of specialized training hours and numerous honors and awards, including the Outstanding Military Citizen of Georgia Award.

"The Governor-Elect has entrusted me with the responsibility of making Georgia a safer, more secure state," said Hitchens. "I am honored by his confidence in me and I plan to make him proud of his decision through the measures that I will coordinate in my role as Director of Homeland Security."

Major General Poythress, first appointed by Governor Barnes to serve as Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard, will continue in this role, overseeing the National Guard operations and activities.

"In the post-September 11 world, the role of the National Guard has taken on an even greater significance," said Poythress. "I look forward to the opportunity and the challenge of leading the brave men and women who choose to serve their state and their nation in helping to protect the citizens of the United States from all those who would do us harm."

Governor-Elect Perdue has named Vernon Keenan, first appointed in 2002 as Acting-Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Director of the GBI.

"I look forward to working hand-in-hand with the Governor-Elect to build a modern, efficient GBI that will serve the people of Georgia," said Keenan. "The mission of improving the quality of life for all Georgians by solving and reducing crime will continue to be the focus of our organization."

Colonel G. A. Ellis, first appointed as Director of the Georgia State Patrol in 2000, will continue his role leading the state's highway patrol force.

"I am honored that Governor-Elect Perdue has asked me to continue my mission of leading one of the most professional law enforcement organizations in the nation," said Ellis. "The Georgia State Patrol will continue to serve the people of Georgia and work to reduce crime statewide."

The Governor-Elect has also accepted the resignation of Commissioner Robert E. Hightower. The responsibilities of the Department of Public Safety will be reorganized to create a more efficient and effective homeland defense.