—Thirteen public safety officials from across metro Atlanta recently completed an intensive leadership training program equipping them to better serve their community in times of crisis.
On April 21, Mercer University's College of Continuing and Professional Studies honored the first graduates of its Public Safety Leadership Institute (PSLI), a 16-month program designed specifically for public safety leaders.
"This is a proud moment for Mercer," said Thomas E. Kail, dean of the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. "Through the Institute, Mercer University contributes to the development of an important group of professionals."
Students in the PSLI program meet for a five-day period every other month and on selected Saturdays. Students can earn academic credit or continuing education certificates by enrolling in PSLI. The program is endorsed by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, Georgia Sheriff's Association Inc. and the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council.
The 13 graduates came from a cross-section of public safety divisions. Among those who completed the program were a Georgia State Patrol major, a Fulton County Police deputy chief and a Fayette County emergency management program. Art Williams, who was instrumental in the development of the PSLI at Mercer, said attracting students from a variety of public safety backgrounds is an important part of the PSLI. In times of tragedy like the World Trade Center Attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, collaboration between various public safety groups is essential for the safety of citizens, Williams noted.
The unique PSLI curriculum emphasizes collaboration. Unlike other public safety leadership programs, which are geared toward law enforcement officers, Mercer's PSLI is applicable to people in all areas of public safety—from police chiefs to parole officers to fire fighters to paramedics.
Pete Nelms, who serves as the Emergency Management Coordinator for Fayette County Fire Department, was in the first graduating class of the PSLI. "This is a good program because they teach topics beneficial to all types of public safety workers."
Among the subjects PSLI covered were budgeting, technology, management techniques and ethics. Students also receive special homeland security training and earn a homeland security certificate.
"The goal of the program is to equip public safety executives with the knowledge and skills they need, with a strong emphasis on ethics and professionalism, to literally become the most knowledgeable public safety leaders," said Anthony Korey, PSLI program coordinator and retired director of public safety training for Georgia.
"This has been an empowering process," said Lt. Reginald B. Scandrett of the Dekalb County Sheriff's Department. "Through PSLI, we learned in order to be effective leaders we must embrace accountability, responsibility and knowledge. Having completed the program, I feel the community is now in great hands."
In the first PSLI graduating class were Lt. Ronald A. Applin of the Fulton County Sheriff's Department; Sgt. Chris Cain of the Covington City Police Department; Sgt. William Hughes of the Hapeville Police Dept.; Deputy Chief James A McCarthy IV of the Fulton County Police Department; Chief Michael McCain of the Stone Mountain Police Department; Lt. Albert P. Moseley of the Fulton County Sheriff's Department; Sgt. Terry L. Mulkey Jr. of the Atlanta Police Department; Capt. Peter D. Nelms of the Fayette County Emergency Management Agency; Maj. Oliver T. Norton of the Georgia State Patrol; Lt. Reginald Scandrett of the Dekalb County Sheriff's Office; Capt. Gary D. Stiles of the Fulton County Police Department; Lt. Donna Marie Webb of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office; and Lt. Clayton Scott Worthan of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.