OKEECHOBEE — Lt. Michael Hazellief attended the FBI National Academy, Session 277, in Quantico, Va., during the summer and graduated on Sept. 13. The academy was an intense 10-week academy that focused on advanced communications, leadership, best practices and standards, and fitness training for selected officers. Lt. Hazellief was the first deputy to attend the academy and be sponsored by the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office since 1978.
Lt. Hazellief was preceded in attending the academy by former Okeechobee County Sheriff Clayton Williams. Mr. Williams attended Session 112 and graduated in March 1978. Mr. Williams purchased this beautiful handcrafted sand painting of the National Academy logo as a memento of his attendance and graduation of the academy. He decided it should be passed along to Lt. Hazellief and recently presented it as a gift to him and the sheriff’s office.
Lt. Hazellief stated, “I was so honored to receive this gift, especially knowing it came from Sheriff (retired) Williams. This painting truly symbolizes the honor and prestige of the National Academy. This opportunity could have never been possible without the initiative and support of Sheriff Stephen and I am eternally grateful to him. I will proudly display it until I retire and plan to pass it along to those from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office who may have the privilege of attending the National Academy in the future.”
Sheriff Noel E. Stephen stated, “This prestigious opportunity presented itself to allow someone to represent the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office as well as bringing back a level of training and connections that are unmeasurable. Michael was my very first thought and selection. He has exhibited the attentiveness to learn and ability to share that knowledge to better our deputies to serve our agency and community. I am honored and excited about the growth of our sheriff’s office and the vision for the future.”