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During the month of October, the Cobb Chamber recognizes Public Safety Appreciation Week, and in Cobb County, we have a lot to be thankful for with the many men and women who run towards danger when they are needed in order to keep our community safe every day. It is important to recognize that our city, county, and business leaders understand the role public safety plays in making Cobb a great place to live and do business.

It’s not uncommon for you to see officers from the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office around as they have deployed a Community Engagement Unit (CEU). The CEU participates regularly in organizations across the County, including the various Business Associations (East, Marietta, Northeast, South, and West). This unit provides safety and fraud prevention presentations to businesses and other organizations. In addition, the Cobb Sheriff’s office has had representation in the Excel Management Program, a program designed to develop Cobb County supervisory and management personnel to be informed leaders and broaden the participant’s perspective of the County. As a part of the most recent class, Colonel David Gallmon and Captain Yaminah Holt with the Cobb Sheriff’s Office helped raise more than $41,000 to complete a project at the Calvary Children’s Home.

A key factor in building confidence and trust with our community is improved and effective communication, which the Kennesaw Police Department understands extremely well. They believe that their work is far more than just patrolling the streets; they strive to connect with their community.

According to Bill Westenberger, the City of Kennesaw’s Police Chief, “For a community to thrive, there has to be mutual investment by everyone. The bonds forged between public safety and the business community in Cobb have set the bar high creating a premium quality of life. When we work together on challenges, the product stock is higher with a safer community and lower business cost. Everybody WINS!”

For the last two years, Chief Westenberger has written a monthly article in Around Kennesaw Magazine on a variety of topics, from personal safety and security tips to encouraging and uplifting messages. He has put into practice his belief of genuinely creating a connection between public safety officers, business, and residents to improve his community’s quality of life and ability to attract new businesses, while retaining those who call Kennesaw home.

For the City of Smyrna’s Fire Chief, Brian Marcos, it’s personal. After participating in the Chamber’s Leadership Cobb Program, he was inspired to co-found a similar program that specifically connects local public safety officers with the surrounding business community. Realizing that frontline workers can benefit from inspiring leaders in top-performing organizations, Marcos, along with the City of Marietta’s Fire Chief Tim Milligan, created the United Leadership Program. This program is designed for fire service professionals who are looking for career advancement through leadership development. Officially launched in 2019, the program not only unites all fire service agencies in Cobb County, but also forges relationships between them and the business community.

“The United Leadership Program would not exist if it were not for this unique partnership,” says Marcos. “The opportunity to engage our community leaders and learn from one another is invaluable. Today, we have graduated more than 75 public safety professionals throughout Cobb County and the cities within. We are aiming for excellence though unlikely partnerships.”

Even beyond the traditional sense of front-line safety, the Cobb County Fire Marshal Department is also doing their part to support economic development efforts in Cobb. In an effort to expedite processes, the Cobb County Fire Marshal’s office implemented regular meetings hosted at the Cobb Chamber. These meetings serve as a platform to provide an open line of communication for the business community and be easily accessible to companies and their leadership. Those attending the meetings are typically seeking to invest in the County through new builds or improvements to existing facilities, and the County’s Fire Marshal’s office seeks to lower that barrier and create a positive experience during the process.

As host of these informational meetings, Cobb County Fire Marshal Division Chief Nick Dawe says, “We understand that fire and life safety policies can seem confusing, but we strive to provide as much clarity as possible. While our initial intention was to extend assistance, the feedback from those who want to invest in Cobb has been an invaluable resource for us. This engagement has afforded us the opportunity to refine our procedures while furnishing resources to the community.”

To read the rest of this article, view it on the Cobb Business Journal‘s website here.