The Florida Sheriffs Association is naming House Speaker Chris Sprowls an honorary Sheriff, saluting the outgoing lawmaker with a video featuring Sheriffs from across the state as well as Sprowls’ father, who is a retired New York Police detective.
The Sheriffs made the announcement Tuesday, recognizing the Palm Harbor Republican for work he’s done in the Legislature to support law enforcement.
“Speaker Sprowls is deserving of the title of honorary Sheriff because of his long-standing commitment to law enforcement and to the Sheriffs, and what he’s accomplished,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gaultieri said in the video.
“This is an honor that’s reserved for those people that have gone above and beyond, and it’s a chance for us to pay it back and to say to Speaker Sprowls, thank you for everything that you’ve done to support us over the last eight years.”
Some of the legislation praised by the Association included the passage of HB 3 during the 2022 Session, which included several provisions aimed at bolstering law enforcement officer recruitment and retention, including providing $5,000 bonuses to new officers in Florida. Gualtieri said Sprowls was “crucial” in getting the measure cleared.
“We all know law enforcement is not perfect, but law enforcement is not broken. And I think that’s what the Speaker realized,” Gaultieri said. “He did it with passion. He did it with heart. He did it because he cares and really has a sincere and a genuine concern for the men and women in law enforcement.”
HB 3 also had a $5,000 increase to the base pay for Sheriffs for the first time in over 30 years. The bill also included language pushed for by Sheriffs that ensures they retain the ability to move money between budget categories at their discretion without approval from their County Commission.
“He was the driving force to making sure that the Sheriffs of Florida retain their constitutional independence and remain independent, and they’re able to get our jobs done,” Gualtieri continued.
During his time as Speaker, Sprowls also created the Florida Law Enforcement Officer of the Day and placed it in the House Rules so that the future Houses will now begin each day they are in Session by acknowledging and recognizing a Florida law enforcement officer.
“What it says to those cops that are out there working every single day, and working hard, is thank you. And it’s coming from the highest levels of state government, and that’s a big deal,” Gaultieri said.
Sprowls, who was first elected to the House in 2014, grew up the son of a NYPD officer, Joe Sprowls. His father also appeared on the video honoring the outgoing Speaker.
“Having grown up in a law enforcement home, Chris learned respect for people who are in public service for those people who are guardians. They go into that career to serve,” Joe Sprowls said. “It’s incredible to look at what he’s done and what he has accomplished toward the people in the law enforcement community. I look at him and am astounded.”