MANATEE -- Manatee County has named a new public safety director after five months of looking and 147 applicants.
Robert Smith has served as emergency and risk management and safety official of the Arlington Public School System in Virginia since 2013. He'll begin working with the county April 15 following confirmation March 24 from the Manatee County Commission.
Smith will be in charge of 216 employees at the Emergency Communications Center (911) handling emergency management and medical services and marine rescue.
"We were very impressed by his demeanor and approach. He can collaborate and make that collaboration work for projects to get more bang for our buck," said Karen Windon, deputy county administrator for Manatee County. "As you can imagine, that's important to us."
Manatee County has been updating its 911 services, and will launch a new public safety radio system with Sarasota County this year. Smith has more than 22 years of experience in emergency management as a former county 911 director and emergency management agency coordinator.
"He has a really good blend of technical skills and leadership ability that we were looking for," Windon said.
Smith holds a bachelor's degree in emergency management from Jacksonville (Ala.) State University. He is pursuing a master's degree in public administration degree from the same university.