Kemp taps State Patrol captain as next GEMA leader

Sgt. First Class Chris Stallings monitors motorists in downtown Atlanta in this AJC file photo. Stallings has been named the new GEMA director. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Sgt. First Class Chris Stallings monitors motorists in downtown Atlanta in this AJC file photo. Stallings has been named the new GEMA director. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

A Georgia State Patrol captain will be the next leader of Georgia’s emergency management agency, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Tuesday morning.

Chris Stallings was named the new Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency director and will succeed Homer Bryson, who is retiring.

“Captain, now Director Chris Stallings is smart, strategic and I can tell you he is prepared for anything that comes his way,” Kemp said during a brief press conference. “I’m honored to appoint him to this position and I know he will do a great job.”

Stallings joined the State Patrol as a trooper in 2008 and was serving as the leader of the Dignitary Protection Unit. The McCaysville native lives in Paulding County with his wife and three children, Kemp said.

Former Georgia Emergency Communications Authority Deputy Director Mike Smith will become chief of staff for Stallings, Kemp said. Smith is a former City of Covington police officer, Newton County deputy and lieutenant, a commander with East Metro Drug Enforcement, and Covington-Newton County 911 Communications Director.

Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Homer Bryson is retiring. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Homer Bryson is retiring. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Bryson, who is retiring after holding the position since Dec. 1, 2016, said Tuesday he planned to retire several years ago. But his plans changed with Kemp became the governor. His role as GEMA director was a highlight of his career.

“It really gave me the opportunity to do what I love,” Bryson said.

Bryson, appointed by former Gov. Nathan Deal, is the former commissioner of the Department of Corrections, and his public safety career spans 37 years. Prior to that, Bryson was with the Department of Natural Resources. Bryson’s path of service began when he was 15 and worked as a state wildlife officer near his hometown of Waycross, he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2016.

“I knew pretty shortly after that there was no question in what I wanted to do,” he said. “I looked up to the conservation rangers.”

On Tuesday, Kemp said Bryson’s work ethic is respected all over the state.

“We acknowledge his service and many sacrifices that he has given us and this great state,” Kemp said. “Homer has literally given his entire career to the state of Georgia.”

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