A global pandemic didn’t slow down the eight employees of Lake County Sheriff’s Office, who began Saint Leo University’s Command Officer Management Program in January.

Along with law enforcement officials from Citrus, Pasco, Sarasota and Sumter counties, the following LCSO representatives graduated Aug. 31: Sgt. Eugene (Butch) Arnold; Cpl. Jonathan Chavis; Sgt. Tamara (Tammy) Dale; Lt. Jason Kerley; Sgt. Bryan Lawrence; Lt. Clifton McMennamy; Sgt. Timothy O’Brien; and Sgt. John O’Connor Jr.

“I am very grateful for the great partnership we have with Saint Leo University,” Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell said in a statement. “They provide top-notch leadership training specific to our profession. I am proud of the dedication and commitment demonstrated by our employees to complete and graduate this demanding and rigorous curriculum. Continued professional development is extremely important in today’s policing, and our citizens expect and deserve that from us.”  

The class began the 18-credit hour certificate program with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office serving as the host. When Saint Leo’s classes switched to online in March, the class moved to the Zoom format.

According to the university, the pandemic made it impossible to have a traditional joint graduation ceremony, so the individual agencies were to host diploma presentations and the graduates receive virtual congratulations from Saint Leo administrators and faculty members.