City of Lufkin's new public safety director to oversee police, fire, emergency management

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The City of Lufkin has announced a new position aimed at integrating the city's police, fire, and emergency management departments.

Gerald Williamson will serve as the city's first director of public safety. Williamson currently serves as the Lufkin Police Department chief.

"The dangers and the risks and the threats that we see in society now have changed and our first responders have to change with that," Williamson said. "We have to evolve when it's necessary, and this is just an evolution."

He'll oversee a safety team that includes Ted Lovett,  the current Lufkin Fire Department chief; David Thomas, the current assistant police chief; and an emergency management team of key city employees. Thomas will also be promoted to chief of police.

"This new position will be responsible for overseeing a strategic role in public safety engagement and a 21st-century integrative approach between police department, fire department and emergency management services," the city said in a press release.

The city says the team will focus on preparing the respective departments to protect Lufkin residents.

"The City of Lufkin is fortunate to have outstanding police and fire departments. The new Director of Public Safety will be charged with adapting the missions and capabilities of the fire, law enforcement and emergency management services personnel to prepare, train, and respond effectively in a joint capacity to meet the developing nonconforming threats to citizen safety, especially the threats of the active shooter and fire as a weapon." City Manager Keith Wright said. "The threats facing communities today necessitate an integrated public safety response. A failure to integrate Fire/EMS and law enforcement capabilities for these imminent threats, may not only endanger civilians but first responders as well. We want to be the model for small to mid-size cities in this effort."

Williamson has been police chief for the department for the past four years and has more than 33 years of experience."The vision of the City Council and the expertise of the City's public safety personnel have established Lufkin as a safe community and leading city in East Texas. We believe that this new integrated approach will only improve public safety in a complex and increasingly dangerous world," said Mayor Bob Brown.

"Day to day, you won't see very much difference," Williamson said. "But, what we will be doing, behind the scenes is training and we'll also have practices so that we can make sure that our personnel are all where they need to be."

The change is effective in June.

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