In the News

Southern Maryland Executives Suit Up on the Front Lines of Public Safety

Doug Belvin, SMX Vice President of Growth Operations, experiences putting out a different kind of fire—the real kind—at the University of Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute in La Plata.

LEONARDTOWN, Md. – April 16, 2024:  The Leadership Southern Maryland (LSM) Executive Program went behind the scenes of public safety on April 4 to learn about the operations and critical issues of tri-county law enforcement and fire and rescue services. The group met at the  University of Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute – Southern Maryland Regional Training Center in La Plata.

Jay Mattingly LSM ‘20, Training & Quality Assurance Coordinator, St. Mary’s County Department of Emergency Services, and Chris Breedlove LSM ‘18, Chief of Zoning Enforcement for Calvert County, facilitated an action-packed day of demonstrations that gave the executives a taste of what it’s like to be on the front lines of public safety.

Participants went behind the scenes of Charles County 911 Call Center operations and observed a firefighting demo by members of the Waldorf, Prince Frederick, and Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Departments. Instructors at the Southern Maryland Criminal Justice Academy demonstrated SWAT and K-9 operations and put volunteer participants through firearm training simulations. 

A continuing theme of discussion was the challenge of recruiting and retaining public safety personnel in Southern Maryland. Sheriff Ricky Cox (Calvert), Sheriff Troy Berry (Charles), and Sheriff Steven Hall, LSM’18 (St. Mary’s) described the needs and outreach activities, particularly with youth to let them know their talents are needed and wanted. Fire chiefs John Raley (St. Mary’s) and Mark Kaufmann (Charles) joined Southern Maryland Volunteer Fireman Association President Patrick Hassler (Calvert) in describing the challenges of recruiting and training both professional and volunteer firefighters and the consequences of personnel shortages.

“I have the highest respect for those that serve, and especially those that voluntarily put themselves in danger to save others,” said Perliter Walters-Gilliam, president of NBBE Consulting. “I enjoyed the panels by the leaders, the interactive outdoor activities, and learning about the training at the police academy–all so insightful while keeping me grateful for their service to the community.”

Leadership Southern Maryland’s flagship Executive Program is an interactive and life-enriching nine-month, tuition-based “behind-the-scenes” experience designed to enhance the collaborative abilities of our region’s top senior professionals. LSM welcomes mid- to upper-level executives representing diverse geographic locations, industries, professions, ethnicities, genders, and other backgrounds who are committed to addressing the community needs of Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties.