Savannah police Capt. Gerry Long and Lt. John Best are in charge of local security preparations for the G-8 economic summit June 8-10, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. President Bush and the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia will meet in Sea Island, 80 miles to the south. Savannah, normally slow-paced and serene during its humidity-soaked summers, is on edge. Talk of terrorism looms. As the largest Georgia city near the G-8 gathering, Savannah will play host to thousands. Support staff for many world leaders will stay at downtown hotels. Protests are planned in the city’s largest and oldest park. Media will be stationed here. Traffic detours will snarl commuters and interrupt business deliveries.
On the day the summit ends, Bush and other G-8 leaders will stop in Savannah. How the city – known to many only from “Forrest Gump” and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” – comes off may depend on how well Long and Best carry out their plans. The planning has been exhaustive. Long and Best began preparing in August. They go about their task with quiet determination. One of 88 women in a department with 580 officers, the 46-year-old Long grew up in Savannah. Fellow officers say she is clever with computers, obsessed with detail, and polite with the public. Those skills have helped in overseeing many St. Patrick’s Day parades, when about 300,000 revelers descend on the city.