From left to right: John Letteny, IACP Immediate Past President; Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman; Colonel Matthew Packard, General Chair of State & Provincial Police Division;
and Jason LaRue, Associate Vice President, LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) presented the J. Stannard Baker Lifetime Achievement in Highway Safety Award to Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman during a ceremony at their annual conference in San Diego in October.
Sheriff Hoffman has a long and distinguished career in law enforcement and service to the residents of Florida, starting in 1989 with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO). He spent several years working in patrol and marine operations, as well as interstate drug interdiction. However, his most significant accomplishments at CCSO were during his assignment to the traffic unit, where he served as the first full-time DUI enforcement deputy. In 1993, he became the sole member recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and was selected by CCSO as Deputy of the Year. He received certification in traffic homicide and served as a field training officer instructing DUI field sobriety testing, RADAR, traffic crash investigations, and drug interdiction.
Impelled to make a difference after seeing the criminal justice system fail victims of drunk drivers, he pursued his Juris Doctor at Nova Southeastern University and, upon graduation, began his career at the 12th Judicial Circuit’s State Attorney’s Office in Sarasota. During his time as a prosecutor, he handled countless DUI cases and challenges throughout the circuit. He became the first prosecutor in the 12th circuit to get the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) admitted into evidence without the necessity of an expert witness. This policy change was considered a significant milestone for the local criminal justice system in the early 2000s.
In 2005, he began his career with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), serving as the agency’s general counsel and later promoted through the ranks as captain, major, and colonel before being elected as sheriff. Since taking office, the sheriff has overseen several initiatives designed to reduce crashes, increase education, and mitigate traffic issues through high-visibility enforcement. In the past three years alone, SCSO deputies spent 1,581.5 hours dedicated to these programs – educating 2,512 motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Under the sheriff’s direction, deputies continue to prioritize traffic safety within the community and proactively work to mitigate residents’ concerns.
The prestigious IACP J. Stannard Baker Lifetime Achievement in Highway Safety Award is awarded annually to an individual nominated by a law enforcement agency or other traffic safety group that has made a significant lifetime contribution to highway safety.