Sixteen Candidates – Two from Charles County – Graduate Southern Maryland Criminal Justice Academy Police Entrance Level Training Program

Charles County Sheriff Troy D. Berry is proud to announce two new officers will join the Charles County Sheriff’s Office after their recent graduation from the Southern Maryland Criminal Justice Academy (SMCJA). The officers were among a total of sixteen candidates – five with Calvert County, seven with St. Mary’s County, and two from the State Fire Marshal’s Office – who graduated training on June 3.  “We are proud of all of the graduates, and we thank them for answering the call to serve,” said Sheriff Berry. Addressing the graduates, Sheriff Berry reminded them of key points to remember throughout their careers. “You must be good ambassadors. Leadership, integrity, teamwork and excellence are the areas you will need to focus on to best serve your community and co-workers.”

Director of the SMCJA, F/Sgt. Keith Hicks, welcomed the graduates, their families and friends and spoke about the 28-week training program that started in November and included over 1,000 hours of instruction.

William McMahon, Executive Director of the Police & Correctional Training Commissions, shared opening remarks. The Academy’s Board of Directors — Charles County Sheriff Troy D. Berry, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron and Calvert County Major David McDowell (representing Sheriff Mike Evans) — also spoke about the graduates’ new career and the difficulties and rewards each of them will encounter.

Deputy Andre Mitchell and Mrs. Joy Mitchell of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office performed the national anthem, and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard presented the colors. St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office graduate Andrew Budd was the class speaker. Katrina Robertson of the College of Southern Maryland spoke about an articulation agreement between the Academy and the College that provides each graduate with fifteen college credits toward a criminal justice degree. Captain Stephen Salvas (CCSO) delivered the invocation and benediction.

During the ceremony, SMCJA instructors presented awards to graduates who excelled in several categories: Calvert County Deputy Steven Trotter won the Physical Fitness Award by scoring 1,884 points out of a possible 2,000; St. Mary’s County Deputy Jason Bush won the Firearms Award by earning an overall average of 99.5 percent; Calvert County Deputy Ryan Spalding won the Emergency Vehicle Operations Award;  Joseph Ward, Jr.(Calvert County) received the Steve Allen Award named after one of the original founders of the SMCJA who died of cancer several years ago; and Nicholas Buckler (Calvert County) won the Highest Scholastic Award with a GPA of 97.85 percent.

Deputy Director of the SMCJA, Joseph Young, who will be retiring later this year, was also recognized for his dedication to providing superior training for all police recruits during his 12 years as an instructor. He served as the chief firearms instructor and taught classes including mental health, ethics, first aid, death notifications, and civil process.

The Southern Maryland Criminal Justice Academy congratulates the following graduates:

Charles County Sheriff’s Office:
Vincent M. Pancotti
Thomas M. Thayer

St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office:
Matthew R. Beyer
Shawn T. Bowie
Andrew W. Budd
Jason L. Bush
Tyler J. Payne
Shawn A. Shelko
Robert T. Trudell

Calvert County Sheriff’s Office:
Nicholas A. Buckler
Robert T. Shrawder
Ryan T. Spalding
Steven W. Trotter
Joseph F. Ward, Jr.

State Fire Marshal’s Office:
Brad Childress
John Grothe

Academy Staff:
Director: F/Sgt. Keith Hicks, Southern Maryland Criminal Justice Academy
Deputy Director: Joseph Young, St. Mary’s County
Class Coordinator: Cpl. Brianne Gray, Calvert County

Staff Instructors:
CFC Benjamin Luffey, St. Mary’s County
Sgt. Harry Ivers, Charles County
Cpl. Michael Licausi, St. Mary’s County
Cpl. John Hotchkiss, Calvert County
Cpl. Joseph Piazza, Charles County
Jennifer Wood, Charles County

Administrative Assistants:
Kate McDonald
Maureen Uebelhoer


Note: Additional photos will soon be available on the Charles County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page

Charles County Crime Solvers offers rewards of up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest or indictment of a person responsible for a crime in Charles County. Anyone with information about an unsolved crime or the location of a fugitive may contact Charles County Crime Solvers by calling 1-866-411-TIPS, texting CHARLES + the tip to CRIMES (274637) or submitting tips online at All individuals who provide tips through Crime Solvers will remain anonymous. Learn more at the CCSO’s website.

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office is a full-service law enforcement agency comprised of more than 600 police, corrections and civilian personnel responsible for protecting more than 150,000 residents. The CCSO was accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) in 2001 and has been designated as a CALEA Gold Standard of Excellence agency since 2011. Established in 1658, the CCSO is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the United States. For more information, visit      

Media Contact
Diane Richardson