Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson made history Tuesday night when he was elected president of the Florida Sheriffs Association at the organization's annual banquet.
Adkinson is the first sheriff from Walton County to preside over the association, which is one of the largest law enforcement groups 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 association's vice president, will work with the staff and board of directors to guide the efforts and direction of organization 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 fighting opioids and addiction, which he said is at the forefront in Walton County.
Following his election, Adkinson met with Gov. Rick Scott 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 and the Tallahassee Police Department, and was appointed city marshal/police chief of the DeFuniak Springs Police Department in 2005.
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 from St. Leo University. He also 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," Orange County sheriff and immediate past president Jerry Demings 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.
"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.