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INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC SAFETY ASSOCIATION
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Board of Directors & Officers

IPSA Board Chair


Scott Edson, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) retired chief, became executive director of Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS). Edson replaced John Radeleff, who had served as interim executive director.

Edson’s involvement with LA-RICS dates back to 2008, when he was assigned as the unit commander for LASD’s Communications and Fleet Management Bureau. He continued his involvement through the years by serving on the technology and operations committees.

Edson has more than 39 years of law enforcement experience with the sheriff’s department. He served as chief of LASD's Special Operations Division. Prior assignments included communications, technology, law enforcement information sharing, emergency management, investigations, patrol and custody.

He is a very active member of the National Sheriffs' Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major County Sheriffs' Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, and several others.  Additionally, he is the current chair of the FBI CJIS Information Sharing Subcommittee, a position he has held for nearly three years. Chief Edson is married with a son who is a deputy sheriff and a daughter-in-law who is a dispatcher.  In his free time he likes to travel with family, enjoy his ham radio, fly airplanes and play golf.


IPSA Secretary/Board Member


Jennifer Stewart is a 15-year veteran with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Communications Division.

She was a Telecommunicator for five years before being promoted to Communications Supervisor. During her time as a Communications Supervisor she has obtained her APCO Public Safety Telecommunicator 1 Instructor Certification, APCO Communications Training Officer Certification, APCO Communications Training Officer Instructor Certification, North Carolina General Instructor Certification and North Carolina RADO/TERT Certification.

Since she joined the IPSA, Stewart has been actively involved through her participation on multiple committees. She also serves on the APCO Agency Training Committee and SDC ADA Operational Writing Group. This past year she served on the Awards Committee and Membership Task Force. Last year, Stewart received her APCO-Registered Public Safety Leader Certification and graduated in Denver, Colorado in August 2017.

Stewart is actively involved in community relations with the CMPD and developed an educational program to inform the public of the inner workings of the 9-1-1 center and how it can be best utilized by the public. She also works with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system and attends community meetings and events within the county to answer questions related to 9-1-1.


IPSA Board Member


J. Scott Quirarte is a Battalion Chief with the Ventura County (CA) Fire Department. He has been with the department 30 years. He spent 17 years as a member of Special Operations as a shift captain for the HazMat Team.

Battalion Chief Quirarte is the project lead for the Ventura County Interagency Active Shooter Response Workgroup. The workgroup developed coordinated response procedures for all county agencies. Battalion Chief Quirarte was also the lead instructor of program training for over 3000 law enforcement officers, firefighters, dispatchers and EMS personnel. He is also a founding member of Ventura County Stop the Bleed program.

Battalion Chief Quirarte is a Board Member of the International Public Safety Association and a member of the IPSA's RTF and TEMS committees. While serving as Vice-Chair of the IPSA's RTF committee, he served as a principal in the development of the IPSA RTF Best Practices Guide. Battalion Chief Quirarte is also the IPSA representative on the NFPA 3000 Technical Committee.

His course development and instructor qualifications include Hazardous Materials Outreach Instructor, State Fire Instructor, and a Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program-HSEEP Master Exercise Practitioner (MEP). He has developed and delivered numerous training programs/exercises across the country to a wide array of audiences and disciplines including, Public Health, military, fire, law enforcement, FBI, NSA, ICE, emergency managers, hospitals and the private sector.

Officer: IPSA Executive Director & Founder


Heather R. Cotter is the Executive Director and Founder of the IPSA. In this capacity, Cotter is responsible for managing all business operations and implementing the association’s strategic vision. Cotter works closely with the IPSA’s Board of Directors to ensure that every initiative the IPSA pursues and every action taken is in alignment with its mission, vision and values.

In 2014, Cotter formed the IPSA as a 501(c)3, non-profit public safety membership association because she recognized the need to establish a professional public safety organization that offers networking, policy development and training opportunities between EMS, fire, law enforcement, 911 telecommunicators and allied emergency responders. It is the IPSA’s vision for a stronger, more integrated public safety community capable of an effective joint response to all public safety incidents. Given this, Cotter formed the IPSA so that every public safety official and every public safety advocate is eligible to become a member and help advance the IPSA mission.

As Executive Director, Cotter has a role in every aspect of the association from committee work and membership to the IPSA’s events and programs/services.

Cotter serves as an ex officio member to all IPSA committees: 911 Telecommunications, Civil Unrest, Cyber, Fitness/Wellness, Memorial, Mental Health, Public Safety Technology, RTF, Rural/Small Areas, TEMS and UAS. She is responsible for ensuring all IPSA committees include representatives from multiple public safety disciplines and oversees the work (e.g. publications) of each committee. Cotter ensures the IPSA membership has access to the shared, interdisciplinary lessons learned.

Cotter also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the IPSA Journal. This executive-level publication includes manuscripts that are public safety relevant, thoroughly researched and peer-reviewed. Integrated and effective public safety policy needs to be driven by research. Cotter created the IPSA Journal because she recognizes the critical need to bridge the gaps between public safety theory, research and practice.

Cotter’s vision is to bring the public safety community together beyond any call for service. Creating an integrated public safety culture takes time, but the outcomes are indisputably worthwhile: first responder safety, community safety, unified training, improved response, research-driven policy.

Cotter interacts with the entire public safety community daily.


IPSA Board Member


Wren Nealy Jr. is a certified Paramedic and Licensed Peace Officer in the State of Texas. He is the Assistant Executive Director of Cypress Creek EMS managing Field Operations, Clinical Operations, Communications, Special Operations, Logistics, Public Information, and Community Relations. Wren is a Reserve Lieutenant and former Assistant SWAT Commander for the Waller County Sheriff’s Office.

He is the Vice Chair of the Emergency Services Sector – Coordinating Council for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, representing the IPSA. Wren is also the President of the International Police Mountain Bike Association. IPMBA is the standard in public safety cyclist training with 5000 Police, EMS/Fire, and Security members in 17 countries.

He serves as the program director for the CCEMS Tactical Operational Medical Support training program, training tactical medics from across the country and abroad. He has developed several specialized training programs for public safety. He is an accomplished author and public speaker on EMS Special Operations and Emergency Preparedness, presenting at state and national conferences. In 2013 he consulted with Indiana State Representative Wendy McNamara in the revision of HB1111 to allow law enforcement officers trained in tactical combat casualty care to intervene and perform lifesaving medical care during hostile incidents, ultimately testifying before the Indiana House of Representatives on behalf of this bill. In 2015 he was awarded the National Tactical Officers Association TEMS Award for his significant contributions to the Tactical Emergency Medical Support community.

IPSA Board Member


James Dundas has over forty-three (43) years of experience in the emergency response discipline, as both a practitioner and as a consultant.  His experience spans multiple facets of emergency response: from Fire Services, EMS, Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, and corporate and institutional security. 

As a practitioner, he served twenty-seven (27) years with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in suburban Washington, DC. He was among the first firefighters in Fairfax County to achieve ALS certification and went on to teach Paramedicine at the Fairfax County Fire Academy and George Washington University, School of Medicine. Following promotion to Captain, he assumed the role of Fire Dispatch Manager when Fairfax went from seven digit emergency calling to 9-1-1 and manual dispatching to Computer Aided Dispatch.   He went back to EMS for a while as a Paramedic Supervisor and then on the Fire Academy again where he managed all fire training programs. Promoted to Battalion Chief in 1991, he served out his career in two battalions, the last being the most heavily populated area of the County. 


IPSA Board Vice-Chair


Chris DeChant is an Assistant Chief for the Glendale (AZ) Fire Department, where he has served for twenty-two years. He functioned as an Operations Captain, Special Operations Captain, Division Chief of Special Operations, Division Chief of Training, and Emergency Medical Services Deputy Chief prior to being appointed as Assistant Chief in 2008. 

He has managed various sections of the fire department including budget, personnel, planning, logistics and operations. Chris holds a Bachelor Degree of Science, Public Safety Administration, and a Master Degree of Education, Educational Leadership. He was awarded his Chief Fire Officer Designation in 2007 by the Center for Public Safety Excellence and his Executive Fire Officer by the National Fire Academy in 2013.

IPSA Board Member


Commander Chris Butler is 33-year law enforcement veteran. He is currently the Inspector of the Major Event and Emergency Management Section of the Calgary Police Service in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; an agency of over 2200 sworn officers policing approximately 1.2 million people. Chris’ areas of responsibility include the effective and efficient coordination, planning, training and preparedness of all major events impacting, or with the potential to impact, public safety in the City of Calgary.

Chris is also responsible for the Incident Command program which focuses on making outstanding, risk-effective incident decision makers at all levels of the service, from constable to senior officer. The IC program utilizes near-miss analysis; incident debriefing and after-action reviews to ensure that lessons learned are properly captured and broadly communicated across the organization.

Chris has collaborated with Fire and EMS for the past year as a member of the Steering Committee to develop and implement an Incident Command Interoperability and Rescue Task Force program.

Chris serves on the IPSA Rescue Task Force Committee for the whose mandate is to develop a best-practices interoperability framework for police, fire and ems response to criminally-caused mass casualty incidents.


IPSA Board Member


Todd Kerfoot currently serves as the Special Operations and Safety Manager and Tactical EMS (TEMS) Team Commander with Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) in Reno, Nevada. 

As the TEMS Team Commander for REMSA, Todd leads a group of 8 specially trained tactical paramedics that support Reno Police Department, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, and Sparks Police Department SWAT Teams, as well as several federal agencies, including FBI, DEA, and US Marshall Service. 

Todd is an instructor certified by Nevada POST and has developed numerous TEMS courses including: Active Assailant for Law, Fire, and EMS, Airport Response to Active Shooter Incidents,Tactical Operational Medical Support, and Law Enforcement Casualty Care.   Todd has participated in several committees including the Washoe County Regional Active Assailant Task Force, where he contributed to the development of the “Regional Active Assailant Response” protocols.

He was recently awarded the Veteran’s of Foreign War (VFW): National Emergency Medical Technician/Paramedic Public Servant Award.  After recognizing a need for police to be prepared to deal with victims during active assailant emergencies and other trauma related incidents, Todd developed a training program that has been certified and is being taught today. Todd has also received numerous commendations including the REMSA Award for Meritorious Service for actions taken in the response to Renown Regional Medical Center (2013) and Sparks Middle School (2013) Active Shooter incidents.


IPSA Board Member


Dr. Jerge is a native Californian. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of Notre Dame and earned her medical degree from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine. She went on to a general surgery residency at UNC Chapel Hill. She then transitioned to St. Louis University for Surgical Critical Care Fellowship as well as completion of her general surgery residency. At SLU, Dr. Jerge trained with CSTARS surgeons and was involved in teaching military medical personnel pre-deployment. Dr. Jerge began her trauma critical care practice in Phoenix, Arizona. She then assumed the role of Trauma Medical Director at HSHS St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Illinois. Dr. Jerge joined the University of Kansas Department of Surgery in the fall of 2017 as an Assistant Professor of Surgery where she currently practices as a Trauma Critical Care and Acute Care Surgeon.

Dr. Jerge is double board-certified in General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care. She has a strong passion for trauma and critical care. Her interests within the field are prehospital outreach and education, disaster preparedness, injury prevention, tactical medicine, and hemorrhage control. Dr. Jerge is an instructor in ATLS and tactical combat casualty care. She is a member of the American College of Surgeons, the Eastern Association for Surgery in Trauma, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, the International Public Safety Association, and the Association of Women Surgeons.

Dr. Jerge spends as much time as possible advocating for prehospital personnel and greatly enjoys working with law enforcement and fire/EMS on prehospital trauma care and hemorrhage control. She was trained by military surgeons, became certified in TCCC, and served as a tactical medical provider for a SWAT team in Arizona. She attends SOMSA every year and eagerly follows the published medical data in the tactical medical field. As an IPSA member, Dr. Jerge has been active on the TEMS committee and proudly promotes IPSA on social media.


IPSA Board Member


John Thompson is the Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer for the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA).

His public safety career started in 1968 as a volunteer firefighter. He worked as a paid federal firefighter and emergency communications operator before enlisting in the United States Army. While in the Army, he served as a military police officer, canine handler and military intelligence officer before being honorably discharged in 1982. John continued to work in law enforcement after his military service, and in 1989 was appointed Chief of Police for the City of Mount Rainier, MD. In 1998 John was appointed Assistant Sheriff for Prince Georges County, Maryland where he worked until 2002.

Over the years, John has expanded his expertise and his reputation as a law enforcement and NGO professional. He serves on a variety of state and national boards including the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Criminal Justice Information Advisory Policy Board, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), Training Advisory Board and the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Review Board.


IPSA Board Member


Brad Havrilla is a 27 year veteran for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.  Prior to his current assignment in the Training and Safety Division he spent 12 years as a Firefighter/Paramedic assigned to the Special Operations Team.  Brad’s work related passion was Technical Rescue instruction and Vehicle Extrication Competition.  Havrilla served as Vice Chairman of the TERC Committee and the World Rescue Organization and Judged Competitions nationally and internationally.  He also serves in several roles with the Florida Highway Patrol; and is currently coordinating Fire Rescue’s Active Shooter Response program.  This coordinated response between Law Enforcement and Fire Rescue has tightened the gap between these two agencies and is strengthening the bond of Public Safety in South Florida.   


IPSA Board Member


Dennis Weiner has been a law enforcement professional for the past 33 years. In 1996, after 14 years with the New York City Police Department rising to the rank of Sergeant, he became Chief of Police for the Village of Centre Island, NY.  He retired from that position in 2008 to become the Chief of Police for the Town of Juno Beach, FL. Since March 2011, until September 2014, he had been the Chief of Police for the City of Coral Gables, FL.  His extensive civilian education includes earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a Masters of Public Administration Degree from Harvard University, a Juris Doctor from St John’s University and a Masters of Laws degree in Tax Law from New York University.  

Officer: IPSA Treasurer


Karen Ziegler has over 30 years of experience in criminal justice program administration; budget and finance; and full life cycle grant management. Retired in 2016 as Deputy Director and Chief Financial Officer of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, the State Administering Agency (SAA) for US Department of Justice and state criminal justice grants, Ms. Ziegler was responsible for the acquisition; sub award; management; and reporting of over $50 million in federal, state and non-profit grants. In addition to financial management, Ms. Ziegler managed the Arizona Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program – a federal gun and gang violence prevention program, where she was responsible for the state’s strategic approach to reducing gun and gang violence in Arizona. Ms. Ziegler has a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Arizona State University and is also a Certified Grant Writer.

Currently, Ms. Ziegler is providing consulting services to the State of Arizona Department of Administration as the program manager for the Arizona Public Safety Broadband Network (AZ FirstNet) and as a Funding Consultant for Ultra Electronics Forensic Technology.

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