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Florida Sheriffs Association Announces the 2014 Commanders Academy Graduating Class II

July 11, 2014

The 2014 Commanders Academy: The legacy continues

The Florida Sheriffs Institute Commanders Academy graduated its second class July 11, 2014. Class 2, comprised of 29 commanders representing 26 sheriffs’ Offices, took the legacy established by the charter class to an even higher level. Read our blog post about the graduating class and the meaning behind leadership. 

For years, our sheriffs have recognized the value of having their own academy for middle to upper-level managers. Their vision reached fruition with the development of the Commanders Academy in 2013. The core curriculum focuses on topics such as: 

  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Discipline
  • News Media Relations

The curriculum is threaded throughout with issues that are unique to the culture of the Office of the Sheriff. Highly respected subject matter experts give the presentations that are followed by either scenario practicums or panel discussions with sheriffs and chief deputies. Additionally, each class has a comprehensive exit interview and their comments are used to make adjustments to keep the content fresh. 


The charter class of 2013 made a donation to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch. Captain Paul Blackman of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, the president of the charter class, spoke on the opening day of class 2 and challenged the participants to make this a tradition. Class 2, under the leadership of Captain Charlie Thorpe of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, accepted the challenge and the class raised over $8,000 for the Florida Sheriff Youth Ranch. Two other traditions were also begun. The first involved the entire class gathering at the Sheriffs’ Memorial to Fallen Deputies each morning for a moment of silence followed by a Pledge of Allegiance to the United States. The second was presenting a United States flag that had flown over the Florida Sheriffs Association building to the Florida Sheriff Youth Ranch along with the check. These rich traditions will undoubtedly be continued by following classes. 

Meet the Members of Class 2014

2014 Commanders Academy Graduating Class II

Alpha by last name:

  • Sommer Adams
  • Andrew Batchelder
  • Michael Branningn
  • Patrick Breeden 
  • Bill Currid
  • Tony Davis
  • Paul Davis 
  • Robert Dees
  • Darren Scott Edwards
  • Dominic Esposito
  • Stephen Feeley
  • Jennifer Freeman
  • Ronald Hodges
  • Michael Holbrook
  • Dennis Joiner
  • Susan Jones
  • James Lanier
  • Drew Lee
  • Jeff Manning
  • John Poling
  • Jonathan Rackard 
  • Mark Raiche
  • Scotty Rhoden 
  • Chris Sharpe
  • Charlie Thorpe
  • Andrew Walters
  • Scott Wells
  • William Werle
  • Tim Wood 


If you have questions about the Commanders Academy, email FSA Law Enforcement Coordinator David Brand

Congratulations! The 2014 Commanders Academy was held June 2-6 and July 7-11.

Read our blog post about the graduating class and the meaning behind leadership. 

September 2013 marked the first ever Florida Sheriffs Institute Commanders Academy, a two-week intensive course of study to prepare our middle managers for leadership within the Sheriff's Office.

The event marked yet another milestone in the history of the Florida Sheriffs Association in the areas of training. Much of the curriculum originated from the New Sheriffs Institute, held every four years to prepare newly-elected Sheriffs. Following a needs analysis and review by the Sheriffs' Training committee, topics were modified and content was given more depth.  Areas covered in the 64 hours of instruction, with an emphasis on the responsibilities of upper management and culture of the Office of Sheriff:  

  • Media Relations
  • Legislative Affairs
  • Finance
  • Discipline
  • Labor Relations
  • Emergency Management
  • Jail Management

Highly respected subject matter experts gave presentations that were followed by either scenario practicums or panel discussions with sheriffs and chief deputies.  

A bonus was the networking opportunities. Because the Commanders Academy was held at the Florida Public Safety Institute near Tallahassee, with on-site lodging and dining facilities, participants had an opportunity to better bond. Class president Captain Paul Blackman from Highlands County said that it was unbelievable how quickly the class came together and started sharing ideas and thoughts about different issues.  “During the first week of class several burglaries were solved which was a direct result of the networking that occurred during our time together,” he said.

In a display of leadership, the class made a donation to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches. At their graduation ceremony, Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart accepted the check on behalf of the FSYR board of directors. Hamilton County Sheriff Harrell Reid was also present and delivered their commencement address.