Tallahassee, Fla. (January 29, 2024) — The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) is pleased to announce that DeSoto County Lieutenant Michael Bellflower has been selected as the 2024 Corrections Officer of the Year. Each year, the award is presented at the FSA Winter Conference to an officer who has demonstrated exceptional service. This award is sponsored by ZOLL ® Medical Corporation.
Every day across our great country, men and women in law enforcement prepare to act in the most dangerous situations not knowing when the day may come that they will be called upon to risk everything for the safety of their community and the citizens they serve. For Lieutenant Michael Bellflower, that day was June 14, 2023.
On this day, Lt. Bellflower chose to take a different route to work as opposed to his normal routine. In Lt. Bellflower’s own words, “This was divine intervention.” As he made his way down Highway 70, a four-lane, divided highway cutting right through the heart of DeSoto County, he noticed something wasn’t right. A tractor-trailer had caught his attention due to its erratic driving. He immediately recognized the vehicle and driver and knew that the driving pattern he had observed was not consistent with the driver’s years of experience behind the wheel. Lt. Bellflower drove up to the vehicle to check on the driver and soon realized that the driver was experiencing a medical emergency.
Without hesitation, Lt. Bellflower left the safety of his vehicle and jumped on the moving semi to render aid to the driver. The driver was not alert, and the doors were locked. Holding onto the side mirror with one hand, Lt. Bellflower was able to break the door window with the other as the vehicle began to cross the highway onto oncoming traffic towards a shopping center on the other side. Once the door window was broken, he was able to turn off the engine of the semi and bring it to a stop safely. Lt. Bellflower called for assistance and remained with the driver until emergency medical services arrived to render aid.
“It is undeniable that Lt. Bellflower’s presence on Highway 70 that morning was no mistake. He was put there at that time for a reason and, because of his courage and bravery, a potentially tragic accident was avoided and everyone in harm’s way made it home safely to their families,” said DeSoto County Sheriff James Potter. “Lt. Bellflower’s actions are evident of his selfless character and love for his community and we could not be more proud to have him as a member of the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office. ”
“It is truly a privilege for me and for ZOLL® Medical Corporation to join with the Florida Sheriffs in honoring Lt. Bellflower for his bravery and dedication to service,” said ZOLL Medical Sr. Law Enforcement Specialist, Rob Williams. “He is a hero both on and off duty, but the actions taken on Highway 70 saved more than just one life and inspired countless others.”
The Florida Sheriffs Association Corrections Officer of the Year Award is proudly sponsored by ZOLL Medical. During the annual winter conference banquet, Lieutenant Michael Bellflower and his family were given a standing ovation from the attendees.
Official award video: https://youtu.be/PYOKMRbPAnk
From left to right: CFO Jimmy Patronis, DeSoto County Sheriff James Potter, Lieutenant Michael Bellflower, FSA President and Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper, Rob Williams with ZOLL Medical