Wed, May 25, 2022 – 2:16 p.m | By: NCS4 staff
Major League Soccer (MLS) Senior Vice President of Safety and Security Jeff Stonebreaker, CSSP, will be presented with the Milton E. Ahlerich Distinguished Leadership Award during the 2022 National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition, June 28-30 in Orlando excellent . The event is organized annually by the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The Milton E. Ahlerich Distinguished Leadership Award recognizes a professional whose career has spanned numerous achievements and contributions to safety in sport. The recipient’s service, dedication, resourcefulness and integrity must have elevated the profession to a new level to justify this prestigious honor. The award winner is selected by a panel of experts on behalf of the NCS4 and is awarded annually at the National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition.
“I was both humbled and very grateful to learn of this award. I’ve always believed that work is about bringing people together and building relationships that enable effective communication,” Stonebreaker said. “I’ve long been a proponent of a risk-based, intelligence-driven model for event safety and security. The key to a solution-focused approach is getting the right stakeholders to collaborate and make their voices heard. Event security and security support a wide range of services, from broadcast and communications to marketing and guest experience to brand and reputation management.”
He continues: “The goal is to build a team and create a culture dedicated to ensuring a safe environment for players, officials, staff and fans – from all segments of our community. While policies and procedures are important, people are crucial and deserve our best efforts. In the end, I do my best to be a good steward of what has been entrusted to me until it is time to pass it on.”
In his current role, Stonebreaker oversees security standards and policy development for MLS and international matches, supporter group management, the Soccer Security Agent program (compliance) and integrity initiatives. He has also been instrumental in setting venue design standards and has worked with a number of new venues as MLS continues to grow.
After 31 years in law enforcement, Stonebreaker retired as a major from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, Florida. Stonebreaker worked as a safety adviser for the Football Association of England for ten years and played over 50 games in 22 countries, including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. He also served for ten years in an infantry scout unit in the Florida Army National Guard.
“Jeff is a worthy recipient of this prestigious award given his experience, contributions to the industry and passion for ensuring a safe space for sports and entertainment guests,” said Dr. Stacey A Hall, NCS4 Managing Director and Professor of Sports Management. “He believes in collaborating and leveraging expertise from the private sector, government and academia.”
Hall continues, “Jeff has been a long-time supporter of the NCS4. Since the center’s inception, he has served in many capacities, including a FEMA-approved trainer, a member of several advisory boards, and a leader and advocate for professional development programs. He is currently Vice Chair of the Certified Sports Security Professional (CSSP) Commission. Jeff is a highly respected professional in the industry and his colleagues value his support and insight into innovative practices and technologies to address risk and emerging threats.”
Stonebreaker served as co-chair of the DHS Commercial Facilities Sector Sports Leagues Subsector Council, which connects the major sports leagues and major sporting events. The group’s collaboration and collective knowledge has been invaluable as everyone continues to adjust to the new normal in a post-pandemic landscape. He was also instrumental in setting up a reporting hotline for MLS. Work on a formal gambling policy created a need for anonymous reporting that expanded to a spectrum of potential problems, not just gambling. This has evolved into a process of reporting, case management and effective follow-up, allowing all voices to be heard and issues addressed.
Stonebreaker is a strong proponent of a risk-based, intelligence-led approach and places a strong emphasis on education and prevention rather than enforcement. He believes safety is a necessary part of game day and should enhance the overall guest experience.
See ncs4.usm.edu for more information.
About the 13th Annual Meeting:
The National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition will be held June 28-30 at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate in Orlando. The conference will attract over 450 attendees and 70 exhibitors representing professional sports, intercollegiate athletics, interscholastic athletics, marathon and endurance events, sports and entertainment facilities and those providing safety products and services to the industry. For more information, see http://www.ncs4.usm.edu/conference/.
Established in 2006, the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS⁴) is the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the study and practice of sports safety and security. The NCS4 is supported in part by grants from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The NCS4 mission focuses on three main pillars – education and training, research and public relations. Learn more about NCS4call 601.266.6183 or visit ncs4.usm.edu.