Law enforcement training tops Strickland’s agenda

Charlie Strickland

Charlie Strickland


By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook writer

The call about a robbery in progress was pretty routine. Sheriff deputy Charlie Strickland responded just in time to apprehend a suspect.

It wasn’t easy, though. The two men tussled, as Strickland tried to restrain the man who was attempting to reach for a gun under his shirt.

Strickland got the upper hand after pleading with the man to take some deep breaths and then managed to subdue him.

The technique is one that Strickland had gone over many times as a law enforcement trainer. He’d like to see more officers learn how to take down a suspect without inflecting bodily harm.

“When you are dealing with someone under stress and you do scenario-based training and you have rehearsed those situations in your head,” he said, “it comes from memory.”

Ironically, long before the recent rash of police involved shootings and retaliations, Strickland has been campaigning for increased training for law enforcement officers. It’s the primary topic he’s been pushing since he entered the race for Leon County Sheriff.

Strickland, who retired last fall after a 25-year career as a law enforcement officer – the last 22 years with the sheriff’s office – said he had no plans to return. But a closer look at some of the values he learned from his former boss, Larry Campbell, inspired him to run.

Up until he made his decision, Strickland was content to focus on his business Talon Training and Talon Range.

“It was a really good time in my career,” Strickland said. “I spent the bulk of my career training other people and leading the swat team. But I looked at who is going to be leading the agency and decided there is a better way.”

To win the office, he’d have to beat three others with solid law enforcement backgrounds – Walt McNeil, Tommy Mills and incumbent Mike Wood. Each of them has argued that change has to happen to improve the effectiveness of the agency.

In addition to training, Strickland is making an argument for the use of body and dash cams. He said those simple technologies could go a long way to retain the public’s trust in law enforcement officers.
“We have to do new and innovative things,” he said. “We have to reach out like never before. We have to leverage technology; body cameras and we have to spend more time with our community.”
Strickland, 49, didn’t decide on a law enforcement career until after spending most of his life working on a family farm in Marianna. He left that job and worked briefly in an assembly plant before joining the FSU police force and eventually becoming an undersheriff.

He worked his way to being in-charge of the SWAT team. During his tenure he also was responsible for running the Violent Crimes Unit and just before he retired he was the Night Shift Watch Commander.

It’s that experience that Strickland is running on. His business partner J.D. Johnson said he is capable of being an effective Sheriff.

“He is going to follow the law and he’ll be honest enough to blow a lot of smoke,” Johnson said. “He is going to just tell you.

“Charles is one of the most honest people I know in my life. He’s also one of the hardest people I’ve known.”