Florida sheriff wins accolade from Radford’s criminal justice police center
Radford University’s Center for Police Practice, Policy and Research presented its 2021 Excellence in Policing Award to Walton County, Florida, Sheriff Michael Adkinson Jr. during a ceremony held in the university’s Hemphill Hall on April 7, 2022.
Adkinson and his command staff joined the ceremony virtually from his headquarters in Florida.
The Center for Police Practice, Policy and Research presents the award each year to a current police executive. Recipients are noted leaders in their agencies and the law enforcement profession and champion innovative strategies that bring about change and improve policing.
“Sheriff Adkinson is a true leader, not only in his agency but in his field,” said Rachel Santos, Ph.D., a professor of criminal justice at Radford University and co-director of the Center for Police Practice, Policy and Research. “The award is about leadership and innovation and pushing those ideas in your agency and throughout the law enforcement community.”
“Since being elected sheriff in 2008, Adkinson has introduced to his agency crime analysis, stratified policing, proactive, evidence-based strategies and expanded community engagement. Under his direction, crime in Walton County has declined by about 50% over the last five years,” Santos said. Walton County includes rural areas and tourist destinations along Gulf Coast beaches, where more than 3 million people visit each year.
"Receiving this award solidifies our commitment to excellence to the community we serve and our goal of reducing crime in our county," Adkinson said. "We are truly honored to be recognized for the hard work of the men and women of the Walton County Sheriff's Office and are grateful of this recognition by the center that is leading the way in the law enforcement arena."
The center began presenting the award when it opened in 2019. Its first award recipient was Col. Nathaniel McQueen of the Delaware State Police. The 2020 winner was Danville (Virginia) Police Department Chief Scott C. Booth. “Sheriff Adkinson is in very good company, and it is leaders like these who will help improve policing by incorporating evidence-based practices,” said center co-director Roberto Santos, Ph.D., an associate professor of criminal justice at Radford.
The Center of Police Practice, Policy and Research combines evidence-based and practice-based research to create knowledge from original research and translate research to practice through publications, presentations, training and technical assistance.
The center is a place for networking and collaboration among Radford University faculty, other police researchers and experts, police officers and administrators. The Santoses partner with local and county police departments, state police and sheriff’s offices around the United States to implement stratified policing into each agency’s daily operations and institutionalize proactive crime reduction and community engagement. They also partner with agencies to carry out large grant-funded projects that seek to translate research on “what works” to police policy and practice.
In addition, the center is a means for mentoring undergraduate and graduate students for careers in policing, crime analysis and research. Radford University criminal justice majors are involved in research opportunities within the center related to police/community engagement, cybercrime, crime prevention through environmental design, critical incident management, crime and intelligence analysis and evidence-based crime reduction strategies.