The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office has a proud history that dates back to 1637, just three years after English setters landed at St. Clement’s Island and established the Maryland colony.
As Black History Month concludes, the Sheriff’s Office notes and celebrates its history. In 1977, Joseph Lee Somerville became both the first black sheriff in St. Mary’s County and in the state of Maryland when he was appointed by the governor to complete the previous sheriff’s term. Sheriff Somerville went on to win the 1978 election for St. Mary’s County Sheriff, which then made him the first elected black sheriff in St. Mary’s County and in Maryland as well.
At the time of the 1978 election, Sheriff Somerville was only the sixth black sheriff in the entire United States, according to “America’s First, A History of America’s Oldest Continuously Operating Sheriff’s Office.”
A native of Loveville, Somerville was also St. Mary’s County’s first black sheriff’s deputy when he joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1966. Sheriff Somerville passed away on April 1, 2021 at the age of 81.
Sheriff Somerville saw two of his sons continue in his tradition of law enforcement as Kevin Darryl Somerville served with the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years. Kevin Somerville also ran for St. Mary’s County Sheriff in the 2006 Democratic primary.
Cpl. Joseph Lee Somerville Jr. served with the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office for 25.5 years.
The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office proud tradition of service continues today.
Corporal Gerard Muschette, an eight-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, is the School Resource Officer at Great Mills High School.
Cpl. Muschette was named this month as Deputy of the Year for 2021 by his peers.
His nomination read, “Cpl. Muschette’s SRO assignment is at Great Mills High School. This assignment tests Cpl. Muschette’s abilities daily. He is called upon often to intervene in physical altercations, mentor students, investigate various crimes and assist school staff with new and inventive ways to solve potential problems. Cpl. Muschette confronts these issues with a positive outgoing attitude and pleasant demeanor. He takes the time to interact with the students and get to know them. He shows genuine concern for their experiences at school, as well as their lives outside of the school. He often works closely with potential disruptive/troubled students and often purchases lunch for them when they display good behavior. During his day at the school, he ensures he spends his time walking throughout the school and interacting with as many of the students as possible.”
“Cpl. Muschette’s dedication to the school extends outside of his work hours as the School Resource Officer. Cpl. Muschette has become one of the school’s football coaches. As a coach, he continues his mentoring of students while attending gym training sessions, team practices and games.”