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DeSoto County Lieutenant Honored as the Florida Sheriffs Association 2024 Corrections Officer of the Year

January 30, 2024

The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) is pleased to announce that DeSoto County Lieutenant Michael Bellflower has been selected as the 2024 Corrections Officer of the Year. Each year, the award is presented at the FSA Winter Conference to an officer who has demonstrated exceptional service. This award is sponsored by ZOLL ® Medical Corporation.

Every day across our great country, men and women in law enforcement prepare to act in the most dangerous situations not knowing when the day may come that they will be called upon to risk everything for the safety of their community and the citizens they serve. For Lieutenant Michael Bellflower, that day was June 14, 2023. 

On this day, Lt. Bellflower chose to take a different route to work as opposed to his normal routine. In Lt. Bellflower’s own words, “This was divine intervention.” As he made his way down Highway 70, a four-lane, divided highway cutting right through the heart of DeSoto County, he noticed something wasn’t right. A tractor-trailer had caught his attention due to its erratic driving. He immediately recognized the vehicle and driver and knew that the driving pattern he had observed was not consistent with the driver’s years of experience behind the wheel. Lt. Bellflower drove up to the vehicle to check on the driver and soon realized that the driver was experiencing a medical emergency.

Without hesitation, Lt. Bellflower left the safety of his vehicle and jumped on the moving semi to render aid to the driver. The driver was not alert, and the doors were locked. Holding onto the side mirror with one hand, Lt. Bellflower was able to break the door window with the other as the vehicle began to cross the highway onto oncoming traffic towards a shopping center on the other side. Once the door window was broken, he was able to turn off the engine of the semi and bring it to a stop safely. Lt. Bellflower called for assistance and remained with the driver until emergency medical services arrived to render aid. 

“It is undeniable that Lt. Bellflower’s presence on Highway 70 that morning was no mistake. He was put there at that time for a reason and, because of his courage and bravery, a potentially tragic accident was avoided and everyone in harm’s way made it home safely to their families,” said DeSoto County Sheriff James Potter. “Lt. Bellflower’s actions are evident of his selfless character and love for his community and we could not be more proud to have him as a member of the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office. ”

“It is truly a privilege for me and for ZOLL® Medical Corporation to join with the Florida Sheriffs in honoring Lt. Bellflower for his bravery and dedication to service,” said ZOLL Medical Sr. Law Enforcement Specialist, Rob Williams. “He is a hero both on and off duty, but the actions taken on Highway 70 saved more than just one life and inspired countless others.”

The Florida Sheriffs Association Corrections Officer of the Year Award is proudly sponsored by ZOLL Medical. During the annual winter conference banquet, Lieutenant Michael Bellflower and his family were given a standing ovation from the attendees. 

Official award video:

From left to right: CFO Jimmy Patronis, DeSoto County Sheriff James Potter, Lieutenant Michael Bellflower, FSA President and Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper, Rob Williams with ZOLL Medical


About Florida Sheriffs Association
The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation made up of the Sheriffs of Florida, approximately 3,000 business leaders and 100,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has steadfastly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state’s law enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida’s public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs’ Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services. Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and funded the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches with facilities throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. It has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation. For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association, visit

About ZOLL® Medical Corporation
ZOLL® Medical Corporation, a leader in medical devices and software solutions, provides AEDs, interactive trauma kits and program management for law enforcement, schools, fitness centers, corporations, and other organizations that accommodate or serve the public. Our clinically advanced, easy-to-use products include integrated instructions and real-time feedback to help lay rescuers and professionals respond quickly, effectively and with confidence in life-threatening emergencies. Together with our partners, we aim to help save lives with our solutions