News


Five Law Enforcement Officers inducted into Hall of Fame

 

For Immediate Release
May 18, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Current and former law enforcement officers from throughout Florida were honored Saturday at the Florida Law Enforcement Officers’ Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.  FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen presided over the ceremony held inside Florida’s Capitol.
 
The inductees were nominated by the Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Police Benevolent Association, Fraternal Order of Police and the State Law Enforcement Chiefs’ Association and then were selected by a committee.  The inductees were approved by Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida’s Cabinet. 
 
Charles F. DuPont, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Charles DuPont was born in 1861 in Tampa to Romeo and Amanda DuPont, who were both freed slaves. Following the Civil War, he moved to Key West to become a carpenter and a Republican activist. In 1889, he was inaugurated as Florida’s first popularly elected African-American Sheriff. The Monroe County Grand Jury publicly commended Sheriff DuPont and his deputies for their “gentlemanly and courteous behavior,” and a circuit court judge wrote the governor that there was not a more efficient and polite officer than Sheriff DuPont. In 1891, he was ordered to bring two pro-Spain Cubans to Tampa for trial; due to protests, he kept the two men in Key West to avoid a lynching. The two men were tried four times before they were finally found not guilty. He continued to be a strong advocate for equal justice under the law after his term as sheriff ended by founding the local chapter of the NAACP, just two years after the movement began. Sheriff DuPont held a great respect from the community of Key West, which was referred to as the “freest town in the south.”
 
Manuel L. Gonzalez, Miami-Dade Police Department
Manuel Gonzalez started his career at the Miami-Dade Police Department in 2011 and continues to serve there today. While working off-duty, Officer Gonzalez was involved in an exchange of gunfire and was struck multiple times. Although seriously injured, he fought back for the safety of the citizens around him, killing the suspect. Because of his heroic actions, Gonzalez was awarded the Miami-Dade Police Department Gold Medal of Valor for performing an outstanding act of bravery, and the Purple Heart Award for suffering a serious injury on duty. He was also recognized as the 2017 Police Officer of the Year by the Police Benevolent Association and as the 2017 Lee McGehee Police Officer of the Year by the Florida Police Chiefs Association. Officer Gonzalez was recently named the Florida Attorney General’s 2018 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. He is seen by the communities he serves as a true leader and is proud to still serve in law enforcement.
 
Paul R. Hoover, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Paul Hoover began his 30-year commitment to the protection of Florida’s natural resources in 1973 as a game manager with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Not long after, he fulfilled his lifelong dream when he transferred to the Division of Law Enforcement as an officer. He was recognized as Florida’s Wildlife Officer of the Year in 1977. When the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was established, he became the chief of inland operations and later served as chief of staff. During this time, he helped lay the foundation of the FWC Division of Law Enforcement. Paul also attended and graduated from the 1997 FBI National Academy. Throughout his career, he mentored and guided hundreds of law enforcement officers and was recognized by various national conservation groups, receiving the Guy Bradley Award for Outstanding Leadership and Professional Excellence in 2005. An avid runner, he coached Wakulla High School’s cross country and track teams. He was killed by a hit and run driver while on an evening run in 2017. The track at Wakulla High School is now named the Coach Paul Hoover Track and Field, and the run he created to support the cross country program was named the Paul Hoover Memorial 5k Freedom Run in his honor.
 
Alphonso Lofton, Florida Highway Patrol
Alphonso Lofton joined the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) in 1970 after witnessing an FHP trooper investigating a hit-and-run accident, becoming the Patrol’s first African-American trooper. After graduation from the FHP academy, he was assigned to Field Operations in Miami’s Troop E. In 1973, he was promoted to Traffic Homicide Investigator, and he was assigned as a recruiter in 1981. He was appointed to FHP’s Equal Employment Opportunity Committee to recruit more African-Americans into the Florida Highway Patrol. His recruitment efforts earned him recognition from the patrol and the community, receiving the Martin Luther King Brotherhood Award and a commendation from the Florida Commission of Human Relations for his recruitment efforts. Trooper Lofton succumbed to multiple sclerosis in 1984 at the age of 39. Because of Lofton’s outstanding service to the citizens of Florida, the 1989 Florida Legislature dedicated the Troop E Headquarters building in Miami to his memory.
 
James D. Sewell, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Gulfport Police Department
James Sewell began his 32-year active law enforcement career in 1973 at the Florida State University (FSU) Department of Public Safety. After rising through FSU’s ranks to lieutenant, he was appointed an inspector with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and during his first tenure at FDLE, served in a variety of leadership roles. In 1986, he was named the chief of police with the Gulfport, Florida, Police Department and later became acting city manager. In 1990, he returned to FDLE and became the first director of the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute (FCJEI), which, as a Chief of Police, he helped develop. Today, the FCJEI continues to further the professional development of Florida’s law enforcement executives. Over the next several years, he held a number of executive positions with FDLE and was FDLE Assistant Commissioner when he retired in 2005. Throughout his career, he was seen as a true champion for the continued development of law enforcement at every rank. Since retirement, he has provided training and consulting services to numerous law enforcement and other organizations and has been recognized for his ongoing commitment to public service. A native of Jacksonville, he received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from Florida State University.
 
The Florida Law Enforcement Officers’ Hall of Fame was created by the 2014 Florida Legislature to recognize and honor law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line for the safety and protection of Florida’s citizens and visitors through their works, service and exemplary accomplishments. 
 
For Further Information Contact:
Gretl Plessinger, Jessica Cary, Jeremy Burns or Angela Starke
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001
(407)-988-5009 Tampa/Orlando
(850) 294-6538 Weekends