J. Britt Johnson, the FBI special agent in charge of its Atlanta field office, addressed the South Cobb Business Association’s luncheon at Presbyterian Village in Austell on Wednesday afternoon.
“I think it was eye-opening for all of us,” Cupid said. “It’s easy to take for granted our safety.”
Deputies from the Cobb Sheriff’s Office and members of the Austell police and fire departments were among the about 100 people in attendance, along with business owners and elected officials.
“We brought him here because we love the idea that all of these agencies work together,” said Barbara Hickey, president of the SCBA. “And we knew that the FBI Atlanta was working very closely with not only Cobb, but other counties across the state, so we thought he would be a perfect speaker for us.”
Johnson, who grew up in Georgia, began his FBI career in San Diego in 1995. He has worked his way through the ranks, spending more than a decade specializing in counterterrorism.
He briefly addressed the situation in the Middle East and terrorist organization ISIS beheading American journalists.
“This thing just blew up overnight,” said Johnson, who told the crowd his focus had been on North Africa. “Just like when a gang pops up, it doesn’t mean other gangs aren’t doing anything.”
Johnson also touched on the kidnapping plot of a North Carolina man who was taken to Georgia and held hostage in April. The FBI divisions from Atlanta and Charlotte teamed up to find and rescue 63-year-old Frank Arthur Janssen at an apartment complex in Atlanta.
“It looked like a town in Afghanistan,” Johnson said of the rescue scene, which had the FBI, SWAT teams and police surrounding the apartment where Janssen was held.
The kidnapping, Johnson said, was orchestrated by North Carolina inmate Kelvin Melton, who smuggled a cell phone into his prison cell. The plot was said to be retaliation for Janssen’s daughter prosecuting Melton in 2011 and was gang-related, Johnson said.
“This was spring break, so we were a little thin,” said Johnson, who admitted to working on just one hour of sleep over two days during the search.
After the presentation, Johnson said a constant challenge is trying to decide where to put their resources.
“They’re all important, and it’s a tough decision,” he said. “You pull some people off terrorism because violent crime’s getting worse and gangs are getting worse. And if you do and something happens on terrorism, how do you account for that? So it’s a constant balance. You’re trying to get your resources in the right area.”