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What You Missed at the Sheriffs 2023 Winter Conference

March 08, 2023

Every year, the Florida Sheriffs Association is the host of two widely attended sheriffs’ conferences. This year’s first event, the Sheriffs 2023 Winter Conference, was held on January 22-25 at the beautiful Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa in St Johns County, Florida.

The law enforcement conference is attended by sheriffs throughout the state each year, but with nearly 500 attendees, it’s also attended by command staff, office personnel, law enforcement agency officials, sponsors, partners, exhibitors, elected officials and guests.

The event is always dynamic and packed with opportunities for continuing education, association news, important law enforcement updates and networking. Here are a few highlights of this year’s Sheriffs 2023 Winter Conference.

Education and Training

Sheriffs at this year’s conference had the opportunity to receive valuable education and training.

Rafael Mangual spoke regarding his new book, “Criminal (In)Justice: What the Push for Decarceration and Depolicing Gets Wrong and Who it Hurts the Most.” Mangual was a recent guest on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and offers a more balanced understanding of American criminal justice, cautioning against discarding traditional crime control measures. Next, Marc Mero, founder of Champion of Choices, shared on the topic of the “gift of time” and examining your life from a new perspective. 

Finally, at the Sheriff Innovation Panel Discussion, various speakers covered topics that pertained to law enforcement personnel. Topics and speakers included Sheriff Paul Blackman and General Counsel Garrett Roberts on the ransomware attacks on the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, Secretary Ricky Dixon on the Department of Corrections Data Mining and Information Sharing, and Maj. James Suber on the Florida National Guard’s Multijurisdictional Counterdrug program. In addition, Jennifer Willis of Flagler Health spoke on the topic of BRAVE (Be Resilient and Voice Emotions) and Deborah C. Beidel shared about strengthening the Florida Sheriffs Explorers Association.

Important Updates

Another important aspect of the Sheriffs Winter Conference is the opportunity to hear updates from agencies across the state (and beyond). This year, attendees received specific law enforcement-related messages from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis; U.S. Senator Rick Scott; Congressman Michael Waltz; National Sheriffs Association President, Sheriff Bill Bohnyak; DJJ Secretary Eric Hall; DMS Secretary Pedro Allende and more.

Additionally, sheriffs had the opportunity to attend an executive session that included legal updates and legislative initiatives for 2023.

Awards and Recognition

The Awards Banquet offers some of the most touching moments of the conference. Each year, awards are presented to individuals deemed to have gone above and beyond in the field. 

Communications Dispatcher Lexus McClellan of Lee County Sheriff’s Office was named 2023 Dispatcher of the Year for displaying leadership, skill and professionalism under pressure. She was instrumental in responding to multiple active shooter calls as well as being a vital part of the response team in the wake of Hurricane Ian. “She deserves this award because she goes above and beyond,” said Loren Sineni, LCSO communications manager. “She’s the person you want on the other end of the line when you call 9-1-1.” The award was sponsored by L3Harris Technologies.

Next, Pinellas County Corrections Officer Deputy Anthony LaCorte was named FSA’s 2023 Corrections Officer of the Year for his bravery, quick thinking and action off duty. While enjoying a day at the beach with his wife, Deputy LaCorte saved the life of two young boys when they were swept away under a dangerous rip current. “It showed his selflessness that he didn’t even think twice about it,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “He acted without hesitation and saved lives, and we couldn’t be prouder of him for what he did.” The award was sponsored by Falcon, Inc. 

Sponsors and Services

In addition, those who attended this year’s Sheriffs Winter Conference had the opportunity to meet with a number of vendors and FSA partners. These vendors provide vital products and services to law enforcement across the state.

Florida’s Best in Law Enforcement

Each year, the Sheriffs Winter Conference brings together Florida’s best in the field of law enforcement to participate in networking, training and planning. It is a valuable time to reflect on the values and goals of the association, and to recognize those who unite in purpose and voice for the protection of Florida’s citizens and visitors.

If you are interested in more information regarding the sheriffs’ conference, please visit this page to sign up for alerts when information becomes available. In the meantime, you can also subscribe to our free weekly e-Newsletter to learn about other upcoming FSA events.