A man who fits as the missing puzzle piece of countywide plans is taking the reigns of Manatee County's Public Safety Department.
Robert Smith is the county's new Public Safety Director, pending county commissioners' approval at their March 24 meeting, a press release said. He will start his position April 15.
After he's approved for his position, Smith will assume leadership of a 216-member department that includes Emergency Communication Center, Emergency Management, Emergency Medical Services and Marine Rescue.
Previously, Smith served as the emergency management, risk management and safety official of the Arlington, Va. school system.
He's also the adjunct instructor of 9-1-1 and emergency management-related courses for the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials Institute.
He has more than 22 years of experience in the emergency management field.
"Bob brings a wealth of experience along with strong leadership skills," said Karen Windon, deputy county administrator. "His technical knowledge in the 9-1-1 arena fits nicely with the major initiatives we will be undertaking."
The county has begun a process to improve its 9-1-1 services, a program of which Smith will be a key player.
County officials chose Smith from a pool of 147 applicants. He replaces interim Public Safety Director Laurie Feagans, who started in the position in November.
"I'm looking forward to working with a team of great professionals to serve the citizens and visitors of Manatee County," Smith said. "The combination of my operational experience and the variety of positions I've held at the local and federal levels should help me in my new role."
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].