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Graduation Day for the First Commander Academy

November 15, 2013

I had the pleasure last Friday (November 8, 2013) of hosting the first graduation ceremony for the new Commanders Academy at the Florida Sheriffs Association Headquarters in Tallahassee.

Our Sheriffs have long contended that a specialized course was needed for their command staff due to the complexity of their work and we needed to prepare the next generation of leadership within the 67 sheriffs’ offices across the state. Since 1952, FSA has been presenting a New Sheriffs Institute every four years and much of the material in the new commander’s academy was derived from this program.

The class consisted of 30 commanders from 21 sheriffs’ offices from across the state.  While their offices are different in many ways (i.e.: rural, suburban, and urban), in many way they are the same. For they all work for the chief law enforcement officer in their county, they all wear the five point star and they all patrol their counties in vehicles which are marked in the traditional forest green and white color scheme which was adopted in law as the state standard more than fifty years ago. 

Sheriff Harrell Reid of Hamilton County was the guest speaker at the graduation ceremonies. Sheriff Reid is a five time elected sheriff, and a past president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, so he knows a lot about what it takes to be a successful sheriff. He congratulated the class on their success and then reminded them that the keys to success for a Sheriff and his or her command staff lies in developing strong personal relationships with those in the communities they serve. He emphasized that we must never forget that the power we have comes from the citizens were serve and we have a duty to protect them and the office that they have entrusted to us.

The Class President Captain Paul Blackman from Highland County spoke on behalf of the class and emphasized the importance of the material they had covered and speakers they had heard from. He also pointed out the value of the network they had created and the fact that it was already paying dividend in the way of solving crime. In addition, he mentioned that the class has decided to making a donation to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches and Sheriff Ben Stewart who is on the Youth Ranches’ board was on hand to receive a check in the amount of $600.

Afterwards, I assisted Sheriff Reid in making presentation to each commander providing them with their certificates, class poem, challenge coin and poem regarding leadership from Sheriff Reid. It was truly a great day and an indication of what is to come out of this program. Special thanks to Patti Brigance, David Brand, Dr. Jim Sewell, and the staff at the North Florida Public Safety Institute for all their support.  See the press release including photos of the graduates.