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Saint Leo University’s 30th Command Officer Management Program Cohort Graduates in Ceremony June 6

Officers and officials from nine Florida law enforcement agencies prepare for the transition to command staff and leadership positions through university’s program.

Tags: Alumni College of Arts Sciences and Allied Services Criminal Justice Critical Incident Management Education Centers Law Enforcement Leadership Public Safety Administration Command Officer Management Command School School of Criminal Justice Online Education Certificate Program Sheriff's Office Police Department
20 June 2024 - By University Communications

Officers and officials from nine Florida law enforcement agencies, who make up the 30th cohort of Saint Leo University’s Command Officer Management Program: Executive Leadership Institute, received their certificate on Thursday, June 6. 

A graduation ceremony was held at The Meadows Country Club in Sarasota, FL. This cohort was hosted by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Kurt Hoffman was the keynote speaker for the event. Hoffman also is an alumnus of Saint Leo, having earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology in 1994 and an associate degree in 1993. 


Major Eric DeFelice, of the Tampa Police Department, served as the class president and also addressed his classmates and those celebrating the 30th cohort. 

Law enforcement officials from the Charlotte, Pasco, and Sarasota county sheriff’s offices and North Port, Pinellas Park, Sarasota County Schools, Seminole, Tampa, and Venice police departments participated in the program. 

Saint Leo University is known as a leader in criminal justice and public safety education, with many graduates heading agencies throughout Florida and the United States. Building on that success, the university offers the Command Officer Management Program: Executive Leadership Institute to make leadership training accessible to sheriff’s offices, police departments, corrections offices, and other organizations. 

The program was designed to provide onsite education that prepares law enforcement officers and employees for the transition to command staff and leadership positions by addressing areas such as leadership, ethics, human resources, critical incident management, and other relevant administrative competencies. The Command Officer Management Program is a rigorous academic program. 


The customized course curriculum was developed in collaboration with the law enforcement community and specific courses are selected for each Command School to meet agency needs. The faculty who teach in this program are recognized as experts in their academic fields and have extensive law enforcement experience at the local, county, state, and federal level. 

Saint Leo offers the Command Officer Management Program on ground and online to meet agencies’ needs, said Dr. Robert Diemer, professor and director of the Department of Public Safety. “By offering the Command School at an agency facility, one of Saint Leo’s education centers, or online, law enforcement agencies realize significant savings in travel, housing, and meals while their officers and staff receive intensive training to prepare them for leadership roles.” 

The 18-credit hour certificate program consists of six courses during six months (three terms) for undergraduate or graduate academic credits. 

Class graduates include: 

Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office: Lieutenant Melissa Cheng

North Port Police Department: Commander Scott Guzman and Commander Scott Miranda

Pasco Sheriff’s Office: Lieutenant Gary Raulerson and Sergeant Michael Shoup

Pinellas Park Police Department: Lieutenant Gregory Algren

Sarasota County Schools Police Department: Captain Joseph Eilerman

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office (host agency): Lieutenant Diana Darby, Emergency Operations Manager Janine Griffin, Lieutenant Lewis Hirtzel, Lieutenant Mariah Piper, Lieutenant Jennifer Shaddix-Barker, and Emergency Operations Manager Jared Winch

Seminole Police Department: Lieutenant Michele Harbin

Tampa Police Department: Major Eric DeFelice, who served as the class president

Venice Police Department: Lieutenant Jason Adams

For More Information

Those interested in participating or hosting Saint Leo University’s Command Officer Management Program: Executive Leadership Institute may contact Brenda “Nikki” Heister at or call (352) 588-8487 or (813) 317-8373.