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Program Spotlight: The Commanders Academy

October 20, 2023

Florida is home to some of the finest and well-trained law-enforcement leaders in the country – and that doesn’t happen by accident. Through ongoing training, support, and cutting-edge research, the Florida Sheriffs Association has demonstrated a strong commitment to equipping leaders to better serve their agencies and communities through its prestigious Commanders Academy. 

History of the Commanders Academy 

The first Commanders Academy class was held in 2013, but the FSA team began working on the idea of an academy for leaders within Florida’s sheriffs’ offices for years leading up to the inaugural class. Participants from across the state are trained (mostly by sheriffs and key sheriffs’ office personnel) with a carefully chosen, comprehensive curriculum. The training is held at the training center at the Florida Sheriffs Association campus in Tallahassee.  

The Curriculum 

The core curriculum for the Commanders Academy focuses on leadership, ethics, discipline and additional subject matter areas related to upper-level leadership in a sheriff’s office setting. The remaining curriculum is adjusted according to emerging trends and issues that have an impact on our sheriffs. Each topic is threaded with issues that are unique to the culture of the Office of Sheriff. Throughout the course, the class hears from more than 50 presenters and panelists, many of whom are current or retired sheriffs. No other criminal justice program in the state provides this level of executive training. 

FSA Executive Director Steve Casey explains the impact of the Academy in real-life terms.  

“The comprehensive curriculum and forward-thinking training offered through the Commanders Academy empowers our commanders, deputies, and staff to excel in the service of modern policing,” he said. “Florida’s sheriffs’ offices are consistently recognized for their commitment to integrity and accountability. Commanders Academy graduates maintain this standard of excellence by applying lessons learned from senior professionals to real-world challenging situations.” 

Honoring Tradition 

Traditions have been established by each class that have evolved into the culture of the academy. Each class also participates in fundraising efforts, which are donated to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches. In addition to successfully completing the training course, the most recent graduating class (Commanders Academy Class 13) raised more than $28,000 for the Ranches. This generous donation will help support their mission to prevent delinquency and develop lawful, resilient and productive citizens. 

You can read more about each of the graduating classes, from 2013 to present, here.  

Support the FSA 

The Florida Sheriffs Association is dedicated to supporting and equipping Florida’s law enforcement through support and training – and you can be part of that mission. By supporting the FSA or becoming a member, you help to make programs such as the Commanders Academy a reality. Learn more or become a member today.