Sheriff Joseph Lee Somerville Sr. Credit: St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Tim Cameron, the St. Mary’s County Office of the Sheriff, the Maryland State Highway Administration, and the St. Mary’s County State Delegation proudly invite the public to a road naming ceremony in honor of Sheriff Joseph Lee Somerville Sr.

The dedication ceremony will take place at the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office headquarters on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, at 10:00 am at 23150 Leonard Hall Drive in Leonardtown. A 10-mile section of Route 5, from its intersection with Rt. 235 in Mechanicsville to the intersection of Hollywood Road in Leonardtown, will be dedicated to Sheriff Somerville.

Sheriff Somerville became the first black deputy in St. Mary’s County when he joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1966. Deputy Somerville, a native of Loveville, was promoted to Lieutenant in 1976. The following year, Lt. Somerville was appointed by Governor Marvin Mandel to continue the term of Sheriff George Sanger, who passed away unexpectedly. Sworn in on the steps of the courthouse in Leonardtown on March 1, 1977, Sheriff Somerville became the first black Sheriff in St. Mary’s County and in the state of Maryland. In 1978, Sheriff Somerville successfully ran for election to the office, becoming the county’s and state’s first elected black Sheriff. He was also the sixth black Sheriff in the United States at the time.

Sheriff Somerville retired from the Sheriff’s Office in 1982. He continued to live in St. Mary’s County and two of his sons followed in their father’s footsteps as St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office Deputies. He died on April 1, 2021, at the age of 81.

In naming the 10-mile section of Route 5 for Sheriff Somerville, the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association said, “it is the route that he patrolled during his duty as a deputy sheriff and it runs past his house in Loveville where his family resides.”

The St. Mary’s County State Delegation stated that “this dedication is a well-deserved and appropriate memorial and a reminder of the lasting impact that Sheriff Somerville had on the residents of St. Mary’s County and the entire State of Maryland” the St. Mary’s County Delegation said.

“Sheriff Somerville was a lifetime resident of St. Mary’s County and a dedicated law enforcement officer whose contributions deem him more than worthy of this honor and recognition,” the Commissioners of St. Mary’s County said.


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