TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today recognized Deputy Michael Cohen of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office as the 2007 School Resource Officer (SRO) of the Year. The Attorney General’s Office presented the award this morning at the annual conference of the Florida Association of School Resource Officers in St. Pete Beach. The conference was attended by more than 600 law enforcement officers from around the state.
“School Resource Officers are truly dedicated men and women who put the safety of Florida’s children first every day,” said Attorney General McCollum. “Deputy Cohen is an exemplary model of what a School Resource Officer should be.”
After retiring from a 20-year term of service in the United States Army, Deputy Cohen began his career in law enforcement with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. For the past seven years, he has been assigned to the Hamilton County Schools and has been actively involved in a variety of extracurricular activities with the schools, including teaching the Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs, acting as an advisor for the Sheriff’s Explorer Troop, coaching for the Summer Police Athletic League and driving school bus routes when there is a shortage of drivers.
In addition to his work with the Hamilton County Schools, Deputy Cohen has been involved with the Special Olympics for the past three years.
His special project is his Special Olympics basketball team which was recently chosen to represent the United States at the Special Olympic World Games to be held in October 2007 in China.
“Mike represents the epitome of a dedicated School Resource Officer,”
said Hamilton County Sheriff Harrell Reid. “The children always come first with him and he truly has a keen feeling for what is in their best interests. He never fails to give selflessly whatever is necessary to help the children of Hamilton County.”
Deputy Cohen was selected as the fifth recipient of the annual School Resource Officer of the Year award as the result of a three-step recognition process. First, SRO supervisors across the state submit nominations to the Attorney General’s Office. Next, the nominations are reviewed by a committee of three former law enforcement officers who are not affiliated with any agency employing School Resource Officers; this committee selects the top three nominees. Finally, the committee selects the individual School Resource Officer to receive the top award.
Also honored at this year’s conference were eight law enforcement officers who received the designation as School Resource Officer Practitioners after completing a rigorous training program through the Attorney General’s Office.
Since 1988, the Florida Crime Prevention Training Institute – a unit of the Attorney General’s Office – has offered the designation of School Resource Officer Practitioner. This designation is conferred to document an individual’s successful completion of a series of SRO training courses offered by the institute. The officer must complete 130 hours of juvenile-related courses from the institute or other authorized training sources. With the addition of the eight officers receiving the designation today, a total of 231 School Resource Officers have been designated as practitioners.