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What You Missed at the Sheriffs 2024 Winter Conference

February 29, 2024

Every year, the Florida Sheriffs Association hosts two widely attended sheriffs’ conferences. This year’s first event, the Sheriffs 2024 Winter Conference, was held on January 28-31 at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach in Walton County.   

The event is always dynamic and packed with opportunities for continuing education, association news, important law enforcement updates and time for sheriffs to share ideas and build important relationships.  Here are a few highlights of this year’s Sheriffs 2024 Winter Conference. 

Education and Training 

Sheriffs at this year’s winter conference received valuable education and training. This year’s offerings included an innovation panel where sheriffs’ offices were able to present their most recent and successful programs for their community so that other sheriffs could learn from each other and discover ways to implement similar programs in their county. 

Important Updates 

Another important aspect of the conference is the opportunity to hear updates from law enforcement agencies across the state (and beyond).  

At this year’s event, the FSA announced $150,000 in grant funding available to Florida sheriffs through the Bulletproof Vest Grant Program. These dollars were approved by the FSA Board of Directors to provide small and medium-sized offices with bulletproof vests, panels and carriers. 

Next, Gov. DeSantis presented the 4,000th law enforcement recruiting bonus. This initiative encourages Floridians to join the profession and attracts out-of-state recruits or experienced officers to relocate to Florida. He presented this bonus check through the Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Program to Bay County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Belthrop, who relocated to Florida from Virginia. 

Recruits have moved to Florida from every state and two U.S. territories, including more than 340 recruits from states such as Illinois, California and New York. Each of the 4,000 law enforcement officers have received a $5,000 bonus after taxes, bringing the total amount awarded through the program to more than $27 million.   

For more information about the Florida Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Payment Program, visit    

Finally, the FSA presented the following checks to important affiliated programs they support annually: 

  • Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches: $392,249 
  • Florida Sheriff’s Explorer Association: $42,266.71 
  • Concerns of Police Survivors: $20,000  
  • Florida Deputy Sheriffs Association “Lend a Hand:” $183,527 

Awards and Recognition 

The annual 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 Specialist First Class Megan Burton of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office was named 2024 Dispatcher of the Year. She has saved numerous lives through her diligent and compassionate efforts to provide life-saving instructions to 9-1-1 callers. “Her calm demeanor has helped countless callers during times of distress, her attention to detail has helped keep our deputies safe and her dedication to helping others has allowed new dispatchers to develop their careers,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said. The award is sponsored by L3Harris Technologies. 

DeSoto County Lieutenant Michael Bellflower was named 2024 Corrections Officer of the Year. Lt. Bellflower responded to a truck driver on the road who appeared to be in distress, climbing onto the tractor trailer and providing life-saving assistance. “It is undeniable that Lt. Bellflower’s presence on Highway 70 that morning was no mistake. He was put there at that time for a reason and, because of his courage and bravery, a potentially tragic accident was avoided and everyone in harm’s way made it home safely to their families,” DeSoto County Sheriff James Potter said. This award is sponsored by ZOLL ® Medical Corporation. 

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.