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Investigator David Colt Howell of Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Recognized as Florida Sheriffs Association’s 2023 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

The Florida Sheriffs Association is honored to announce the selection of Deputy David Colt Howell of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office as the 2023 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. This award, which is proudly sponsored by FirstNet®, Built with AT&T, is presented annually at the FSA Summer Conference to commend an officer who has shown service, bravery, and honor in the line of duty.

David Colt Howell began his law enforcement career in 2015. After working with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and Marianna Police Department, he was selected to join the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in April of 2022. Deputy Howell excelled quickly, passing his field training program in a short amount of time, and proved he would be an asset to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for years to come.

“Deputy Howell exemplifies the level of bravery, commitment, and professionalism that citizens deserve from a law enforcement officer,” said Jackson County Sheriff Donald L. Edenfield. “His ability to remain calm under pressure and serve his community with diligence has truly saved lives.”

On the morning of July 23, 2022, Deputy Howell responded to a noise disturbance with Sneads Police Department Sergeant Brett Preston as backup. Matters quickly escalated when the neighbor began firing shots at them from across the yard. A lengthy gunfight ensued, and Sergeant Preston was shot multiple times and unable to find cover. Deputy Howell was able to render the suspect’s firearm inoperable by shooting the weapon and injuring the suspect’s elbow. The suspect began to attack an already injured Sergeant Preston by climbing on top of him in an attempt to take his weapon, but Deputy Howell quickly intervened and positioned himself to return fire. Deputy Howell ultimately fired a fatal shot, ending the suspect’s assault on Sergeant Preston.

Deputy Howell detained the suspect and immediately began providing emergency medical care to Sergeant Preston. Deputy Howell evaluated Sergeant Preston’s injuries, relayed critical information to responding units and took measures to control the bleeding. Once Sergeant Preston was stable, Deputy Howell turned his attention to providing emergency medical care to the suspect who, just moments earlier, had tried to kill them.

Deputy Howell’s heroic actions helped save Sergeant Preston’s life. Even under this extreme amount of stress, Deputy Howell reported times, what he was seeing, and what he was doing, which were recorded on video. This was not only a huge asset to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents investigating the case, but also demonstrated to command staff Deputy Howell’s ability to respond in a high stress situation while thinking through the process and rendering aid.

“The combination of professionalism and bravery that Deputy Howell has displayed in his line of work is admirable,” said FSA President and Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper. “What he has done for his community is what this award is all about, and today we recognize his heroism and dedicated service.”

Deputy Howell‘s actions were heroic, and when faced with evil, helped defend the innocent by placing himself in harm’s way.

“As public safety’s partner, delivering the nation’s public safety network, we are proud to highlight the exemplary work of public servants, like Deputy Howell, through the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award,” said Rob Lavielle, FirstNet Solutions Consultant, AT&T.

Deputy Howell continues to lead Jackson County Sheriff’s Office through his promotion to investigator, and the Florida Sheriffs Association is proud to honor him as the 2023 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. For more information on this achievement, watch the official video:


From Left, Jackson County Sheriff Donald Edenfield, Deputy David Colt Howell, Rob Lavielle AT&T FirstNet Solutions Consultant, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Hernando County Sheriff and FSA President Al Nienhuis


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 FirstNet, Built with AT&T

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