Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson made history Tuesday night when he was elected president of the Florida Sheriffs Association at the FSA's annual banquet.
Adkinson is the first sheriff from Walton County to preside over the association, which is one of the largest law enforcement organizations in the nation.
"I am very humbled that a Walton County sheriff gets to run the largest association in the nation," Adkinson told The Sun.
Adkinson, who currently serves as FSA's vice president, will be responsible for presiding over the association, working with staff and the board of directors to guide the efforts and direction of FSA and its 65 sheriffs.
"It means a lot for Walton County," he said. "The president has an opportunity to help direct law enforcement for the state."
Adkinson intends to focus on regulating opioids and addiction, which he said is at the forefront in Walton.
Following his election, Adkinson met with Gov. Rick Scottt and will meet with him again in a few weeks.
"I will meet with folks nationwide. I will have the opportunity to direct public policy in a direction that is beneficial to the state and be proactive instead of reactive," he said. "I'll be able to set legislative agenda for the next legislative session. I'll be helping to drive that. The president of the association has so much influence that you are only allowed to be president for one year. I am thrilled and honored to serve in this once-in-a-lifetime role. I hope to make the association and our community proud."
Adkinson is a Walton County native and is in his 18th year of working in law enforcement. He previously worked with the Florida Department of Corrections, the Parole Bureau, Tallahassee Police Department and the DeFuniak Springs Police Department, where he served as city marshal/police chief.
Adkinson is a graduate of Walton Senior High School and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminology from Florida State University and a Master of Criminal Justice Administration degree from St. Leo University. He is a graduate of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Chief Executive Seminar No. 40.
The sheriff and his wife, Erin, are active in raising awareness for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes and have established the support group Emerald Coast Type 1 to educate and support their community.
"The association could not have a better leader taking the reins," Jerry Demings, the Orange County Sheriff and immediate past president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, said in a press release. "Sheriff Adkinson loves his county, his state, his country, and his fellow sheriffs. I am honored to work with him."
Sheriff Mark Hunter of Columbia County was appointed vice president of the association.
Each year, the Florida Sheriff's Association elects a new board of directors to lead efforts for the coming year and through the legislative session.
"I have no doubt the sheriffs elected by their peers to take on this role will lead with the honor and integrity that is the foundation of our association," association Executive Director Steve Casey said in the press release.
The Florida Sheriffs Association is a nonprofit corporation made up of Florida's sheriffs, about 3,500 business leaders and 70,000 citizens in the state.
FSA both established and continues to fund the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches with facilities throughout the state.
For more information, visit www.flsheriff.org.