For Immediate Release:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (February 1, 2013) – At their annual winter conference this week, the Florida Sheriffs bestowed their highest award on former lawman, lawmaker and government consultant, Frank Messersmith.
This rare award has only been presented eight times in FSA’s 120-year history. The last award, presented three years ago, honored the memory of former Executive Director Gary Perkins; it was the first time it was presented posthumously.
This year, the 67 Sheriff of Florida could not ignore the life accomplishments – not to mention the contributions to preserving the Office of Sheriff – of recently retired government consultant Frank Messersmith.
In receiving the title, Messersmith has joined the ranks of some distinguished – and colorful – people, including the first who was a professional comedian. There are also three politicians on the list who fought long and hard for the Sheriffs as state Senators. Only one past recipient was in law enforcement – former FDLE Commissioner Tim Moore. Two others devoted nearly their entire careers to serving the Sheriffs of Florida– Carl Stauffer and John Hunt, Sr.
Messersmith, FSA’s latest Honorary Sheriff, has some of these characteristics in common – law enforcement, politician and long time service to the Florida Sheriffs. And those who know him would agree, a bit of the comedian, too.
Messersmith is best known as the man who did battle at the Capitol for the past 13 years while representing the Sheriffs. His sweetest victory, he says, was restoring $1.4 billion in retirement benefits to law-enforcement officers.
But not everyone knows that Messersmith once worked undercover as a “John” in prostitution stings with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Or that he was an award-winning journalist before that.
All of this preceded his five terms as a Florida Representative, as he led the charge to build prisons, which resulted in a record reduction in crime.
In his political career, Frank was hailed as “the GOP’s Point Man,” and “a Rising Star Among Republican ranks.” But what gave him the staying power was his ability to find the middle ground among his fellow lawmakers. And very often those issues involved the Sheriffs.
For his loyalty, Frank was awarded the contract to represent the Sheriffs in the legislature when he became a governmental consultant in the year 2000.
Loyalty is a common thread in this man’s life. In addition to his professional career, he served 30 years on the Board of Communities in Schools’ national dropout prevention and mentoring program and currently holds the title of being one of the longest serving Community College Trustees in Florida.
This past fall, Frank Messersmith chose to pass the baton, representing the Sheriffs and other distinguished clients in Florida’s Capitol. And the Sheriffs, along with the staff at the Florida Sheriffs Association, will miss the strong working relationship built over the last 13 years.
As FSA president Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton told the audience at the winter conference, with this award, the Sheriffs are saying, “You will always be one of us.”
Congratulations, Frank Messersmith, Honorary Sheriff of Florida.
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Editor's note: Please see related story in FSA's legislative archives: Frank Messersmith: A Finder of Middle Ground