Top Law Enforcers Turn out for Meeting; Amelia: Sheriffs Conference Draws 500

Article excerpt

Byline: Alison Trinidad, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

Sheets of rain couldn't keep Florida's top law enforcement officials from enjoying a three-day conference at Amelia Island Plantation this week.

About 500 people, including Gov. Jeb Bush, came to the Florida Sheriffs Association's annual mid-winter conference to discuss law enforcement issues and indulge in the comforts of Amelia Island's resorts.

Conference organizers said it was the first time Nassau County has hosted a meeting of the Florida Sheriffs Association, and that members jumped at the chance to visit Amelia Island.

Undersheriff Tommy Seagraves of the Nassau County Sheriff's Office said the turnout was tremendous considering the dreary weather. But others said participation was even greater than that.

"This is the biggest turnout I've seen [in nine years]," said Ken Ross, a vendor at the conference trade show.

The stay at Amelia Island Plantation was a first for Ross, a Jacksonville resident.

"We're normal, hardworking people. . . . This was a great opportunity and it looks like everybody jumped on it," he said.

Scheduled activities began Sunday with a golf tournament at The Golf Club of Amelia.

"It poured, but we still played," Seagraves said.

"It was fun, cold and wet all at the same time," Ross said.

Meetings and luncheons followed through Wednesday morning. U.S. marshals and Drug Enforcement Administration officers mingled with county sheriffs and deputies. Fifty-nine of the state's 67 sheriffs attended, and about half of the 500 participants were vendors displaying the newest gadgets in the law enforcement trade, conference coordinator Rnee Dean said. …