The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials – International, Inc. – APCO International – is the world’s oldest and largest not-for-profit professional organization dedicated to the enhancement of public safety communications. With more than 15,000 members around the world, APCO International exists to serve the people who operate, manage, maintain, and supply the communications systems used to safeguard the lives and property of citizens everywhere.
The Florida Chapter was founded September 20, 1944 and is always looking to increase membership and offer you numerous opportunities to broaden your horizons.
What are the benefits?
· Public Safety Communications – the official magazine of APCO International, Inc.
· RoundUP – a newsletter published quarterly by the Florida Chapter
· Conferences – with many training and networking opportunities
. Florida APCO Chapter Conference, in conjunction with the Florida NENA Chapter
. APCO International Conference
· Training Opportunities
. The Florida Chapter offers training around the state. Check out our website for the large variety of topics, www.apco-florida.org
. APCO Institute offers education and training programs
· Committees – at the State and International level
. Join one or more of the committees dedicated to an issue you're concerned about
· Networking – APCO membership offers a range of networking opportunities
· Chapter Meetings – attend meetings and address specific local issues
Read the chapter by-laws here.
APCO Florida past presidents:
2014-2015 Nancy Morris
2013-2014 Christine Hodges
2011-2012 Robert Jeffrey
2010-2011 Joann Brown
2009-2010 Ricky Rowell
2008-2009 Susan Pettingill
2007-2008 Lori Van Gilder
2006-2007 Eddie Williams
2005-2006 Eddie Williams
2004-2005 Matt Stillwell
2003-2004 Debbie Gailbreath
2002-2003 Michael "Bo" Jones
2001-2002 Tom Sorely
2000-2001 Dick Nelson
1999-2000 Robin Schmidt
1998-1999 Barry Luke
1997-1998 Barry Luke
1996-1997 Natalie Duran
1995-1996 Vicky Pegram
1994-1995 Debbie D'Orazio
1993-1994 Nancy Dzoba
1992-1993 Marilyn Ward/Nancy Dzoba (Marilyn elected to APCO Intl Board)
1991-1992 Marilyn Ward
1990-1991 Randall Kerr
1989-1990 Della Shealy
1988-1989 Gil Lineberry
1987-1988 Hugh McCaffrey
1986-1987 Ernest Landreville
1985-1986 Douglas R. Dickinson
1984-1985 Joseph Y. Nasser
1983-1984 Charles T. Rahn
1982-1983 Barbara Devine
1981-1982 Ralph D. Day
1980-1981 Ralph D. Day
1979-1980 Don Whipple
1978-1979 William Reigner, Jr.
1977-1978 John Hawkins
1976-1977 Edward Holmes
1975-1976 Don L. Fox
1974-1975 Charles Hoffman
1973-1974 Perry Rogers
1972-1973 Bill Barker
1971-1972 J. H. Spence
1970-1971 G.D. McKechine
1969-1970 Tom Hancock
1968-1969 Howard Black
1967-1968 D.D. Dull
1966-1967 Dick Clippand
1965-1966 Robert W. Graffe
1964-1965 W.E. Barker, Sr.
1963-1964 Stanley Hawkins
1962-1963 Earl O. Burchard
1961-1962 Prescott Miller
1960-1961 Arthur Melvin
1958-1959 B.A. Everitt
1955-1956 J. Rhett McMillian
Joann Brown-President 2010-2011 and 2012-2013
Joann Brown began her Public Safety career in 1988 as a Telecommunicator with the Coral Springs Police Department. She was promoted to Supervisor in 1992 and became the Training Coordinator in 1995. In 2006, Joann was promoted to Communications Administrator. She has been an active member of APCO since 1996 and has served as a member of the Florida Chapter Training Committee and has assisted the Disaster Response Committee. At the National level Joann served as a member of the 2006 APCO International Conference Communications Committee. Joann has a son Nicholas 22, in the United States Air Force and a son Matthew 17, in high school.
Robert Jeffrey--Robert served as president from 2011-2012.
Ricky Rowell serves as the Assistant Manager of the Communication Division of the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office. He also is the Assistant Coordinator of the 9-1-1 Mapping and Addressing system. In addition, he has served as acting Director of Communications and the 9-1-1 Mapping and Communications Divisions.
Ricky began his career with the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Communication Division in April of 1998, as a dispatcher progressing steadily through the system to his present position. His public safety interest and activities doesn’t stop there. Ricky served as a part-time telecommunicator for Trauma One Air Transport Service for two years. He is also a volunteer Captain/Fire Fighter and has been active since 1997, completing his Florida Fire Fighter I and EMT certifications along with completing Paramedic training in 2003. In 2001 he received the hostage negotiations certification and currently serves as an active member of the NCSO Hostage Negotiating Team.
Actively involved in APCO, he has served as a member of the Florida APCO Chapter Board since May of 2005 and APCO International Conference Committee in 2006. He currently serves as the oversight for the Disaster Committee and serves as a member of the Training Committee and Standards Committee. Ricky is a dedicated APCO training instructor having received his Instructor Certification in 2001.
Ricky and his wife currently live in Nassau County with their three young daughters who occupy most of his off-duty time and energy.
Sue is the 9-1-1 Wireless/MSAG Coordinator for the Orange County Public Safety Communications Division. Her background in Public Safety includes serving in the United States Air Force as a Fire Protection Specialist. And, over the last 15 years, serving in several positions including, Firefighter/EMT, Paramedic and Public Information Officer for various agencies, including the Apopka Fire Department, The Villages Department of Public Safety, the State of Florida (DOT) and American Ambulance of Central Florida. Serving as the Wireless/MSAG Coordinator for Orange County 9-1-1 since 2001, Susan thoroughly enjoys her job and is honored to be able to continue her service in the Public Safety arena. She has been an active APCO member since 2001.
Lori Van Gilder
Lori VanGilder has been active with the Florida Chapter of APCO since 1992 serving on various committees including four Florida Conference Committees, one International Conference Committee, served as the Training Committee Chairperson for five years, and has progressed through the Chapter Board of Officers. Lori was with the City of Lake Mary since Christmas Eve 1987. Through her tenure with Lake Mary she served 8 years as a volunteer fire fighter, during which time she started to work in Communications as a part time job to put herself through college. Since then she has worked as an Emergency Communications Operator, Communications Trainer, Community Service Officer, CSO assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division – including crime scene processing, Crime Analyst, Grant Writer, and currently as the Communications Supervisor. Every day brings a variety of tasks and challenges and after all this time - Lori still enjoys going to work.
Lori has presented at numerous industry conferences and serves on the State Department of Education Technical Advisory Committee for Public Service Education. Lori works as an Adjunct Instructor for the APCO International Institute and Seminole Community College. Lori holds a Bachelor's of Science degree from the University of Central Florida in Vocational Education and Industry Training.
Randy Kerr served as the Captain/Division Commander with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Combined Communications Center in Gainesville, Florida. The Center provides public safety communications services for multiple agencies which include: Alachua County Fire-Rescue, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Gainesville Fire-Rescue, Gainesville Police Department, and the City of Waldo Police Department. The Combined Communications Center is a new 24,000 square foot facility which opened in November 2000 and contains 12 Call Taker positions, 14 Dispatch positions, and 2 Shift Supervisor positions. With a budgeted staff of 109 employees, the Center is responsible for a 965 square mile county-wide service area and processes approximately 250,000 calls for service annually. Randy Kerr has been involved with public safety communications since 1978, starting as a Telecommunicator and progressing through the positions of Shift Supervisor, Training Coordinator, Assistant Director, Lieutenant/Bureau Chief, and Captain/Division Commander. As a graduate of the University of Florida (Go Gators!) with a BS Degree in Management, Randy also worked with the City of Alachua Police Department Communications Center and with Alachua County Fire-Rescue as an EMT on a Medic Unit. After becoming a member of APCO in 1985, Randy has served the Florida Chapter as Training Committee Chair, Chapter President, Executive Council Representative, and held the position of Treasurer from 1995 to 2009.
Assistant Chief Eric Ferrari serves as the Communications Officer for Reedy Creek Emergency Services. Starting as a dispatcher in 1993, Eric has progressively increased his responsibilities to include management of Reedy Creek’s Emergency Communications Center which includes Fire and EMS dispatching, 911 service and automatic fire alarm monitoring. Eric is also responsible for the continuous operation of Reedy Creek’s two-way radio system which has over 400 users.
Eric is also responsible for departmental administrative functions, including budget preparation, personnel management, short and long range planning, internal investigations, and oversight of the Department’s training program.
Being a native New Yorker, Eric enjoys spending time talking about his experience in the “up North” fire service and pulls upon these experiences to further enhance his leadership efforts. He also enjoys speaking about Reedy Creek Emergency Services and the processes which make it a progressive agency.
Eddie Williams, ENP, is the Public Safety Market Development Manager for Replay Systems, a leading reseller of voice logging, quality monitoring, advanced analytics, and workforce management solutions. Eddie joined the Replay team in 2007 and handles all Public Safety agency training needs, including initial training as well as follow up webinar training sessions throughout the year. He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Florida and prior to working for Replay, he was Bureau Chief of Communications at the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (FL). He served 24 years in Public Safety Communications at the Sheriff’s Office and the Gainesville Police Department before the consolidation of the two communications centers in 2000. Eddie is an active member of APCO and NENA and served as APCO Florida Chapter President from 2005 to 2007, and he currently serves as the chapter’s Commercial Advisory Member.
Matt Stillwell began his Public-Safety Communications career in 1984 as a Telecommunicator with the Coral Springs Police Department. He was promoted to Supervisor in 1989 and Manager in 1994, the position he holds today. He is a member of APCO International's Call Center Training Standards Task Force and is a subject matter expert for the Member Assistance Advisory Program (MAAP) Matt has been married to his wife Karen for 20 years and has 2 sons, Christopher 15, and Jonathan 11. He enjoys camping with his family, golf, bowling and playing his guitar. Matt has been a member of the Florida Chapter of APCO. since 1994. At the National level he has chaired APCO International's Operating Procedures and Training Committee and Best Practices in the Communications Center Task Force. At the State level he chaired the Standard Committee and has been involved with the Training Committee. Prior to Public-Safety Communications, Matt spent 8 years working in the broadcast industry as a radio personality.
Bob Luke serves as the Bureau Commander for Tampa Police Department Communications. He began his career as an EMT with Randle-Eastern Ambulance in 1974. He then completed paramedic school and went on to become a firefighter - paramedic with then Metro-Dade Fire Rescue. After just a couple of years, he moved to the Tampa area to be closer to family and joined the Tampa Fire Department. In 1983 he was assigned to Signal Division at the start of a new program to have paramedics give medical instructions over the phone before help arrived on the scene. He remained in communications for the next twelve years and then transferred to the Tampa Police Department as Communications Manager. He supervises 112 police telecommunicators in a facility which also houses Tampa Fire Rescue Communications. He has served as the Chapter Secretary since 1996. He maintains the official minutes of all Chapter business meetings and the membership records.
Tom Sorley was the Radio Services Supervisor for Orange County, Florida. He had been with Orange County for two years supervising a staff of six people, managing a multi-million dollar public-safety radio system with nearly 13,000 users. Prior to Orange County, Tom worked for 16 years at the Orlando Police Department beginning as a call taker and progressing to manager before leaving to accept his current position. Tom has been active with the Florida Chapter of APCO since 1994. He has been an instructor, training committee chair, annual conference chair and gulf coast conference chair. Tom has been on the Board of Officers since 1998. He is currently active on the Membership and Chapter Services Committee for International APCO and is involved in the NCC process.
Nancy has been a member of APCO since 1985. She has served on the Chapter’s Training Committee, Executive Committee, Disaster Committee, Conference Committee, and is a Past President. On the National level she has been a member of the APCO Institute Advisory Board, the Budget Review committee, the Members Assistance Program (MAP), and the Homeland Security Committee. She was awarded Life Membership status in 2004.
Recently Nancy retired from the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department. While employed by the Department she worked as a call taker, dispatcher, trainer and the Public Safety Communications Manager. Currently she is employed by the Broward Sheriff’s Department as a Site Manager.
Sharon has been with Marion County Sheriff's Office for 21 years, with 20 spent in Communications. She is a Sgt. assigned as the Communications Training Coordinator. She has been an active member of APCO since 1993. She is a sworn officer with her agency and spent the one year away from Communications as a Corrections Officer. Her duties include overseeing the communications training program, the training officers, teaching classes, developing classes, teaching classes for Crime Watch groups, COPS programs, new deputies, handling 9-1-1 tours, maintaining SOPs and accreditation files, and any other project needed by the commander. She has been on the training committee since 96 or 97, prior to that she was on the Standards committee.
Born in Gainesville, Florida, but raised and educated in upstate New York, Clara returned to Gainesville in 1980 with the intent of staying long enough to get some “work experience”, and return to New York or the Washington, DC area, where she’d be able to put to use her BA degree in Criminal Justice, that she received from Rochester Institute of Technology (in May, 1978). Instead, she landed a job with the Gainesville Police Department where she began as a Complaint Clerk and worked up through the ranks (Telecommunicator Training Officer, Dispatcher, Supervisor and Training Coordinator). On September 30, 2000, Clara retired from the Gainesville Public Safety Center and, on October 1, became the Law Enforcement Training Specialist for the new Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Combined Communications Center where her responsibilities include recruiting, teaching, quality assurance evaluating of law enforcement calls, as well as a few other duties.
Clara first became involved with APCO in the mid 80’s, when she first joined the chapter’s Training Committee. As a member of the Committee, she traveled around the state teaching APCO’s 40-hour course. Since then, she has served as the Training Chair on a couple of occasions, 1990-1991, and again from 2003-2005. Clara served as the Conference Committee Chair for the 2004 APCO Conference which was held in Jacksonville. During the 2005 APCO Conference, Clara was elected to the Board of Officers where she serves as Oversight for the Training Committee. She also serves on the chapter’s (Florida) Standards Committee.
Clara has been married to her husband, Sylvester, for 25 years, and is the mother of Traceye, an 18-year old high school senior.
Joyce Taylor has been a Communications Supervisor since 1981. She holds a Masters in Business Administration Degree from Columbia Southern University and enjoys all types of project management. She was the editor of the department's 25th Anniversary Yearbook, the Communications Training Coordinator for 18 years, a CPR instructor for 15 years and has worked extensively on getting 9-1-1 Dispatchers into the Special Risk Class of the Florida Retirement System. She is the proud parent of Sandy (a German Shepherd/Chow mix) and is known for finding dirt-cheap travel deals and traveling all over the world.
Debbie Gailbreath -
Debbie has been with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office since 1981. Her duties in Communications have included Call Taker, Dispatcher, Training Officer, Supervisor, Training Coordinator, Support Manager, Operations Manager and Center Manager. She currently serves as the Communications Accreditation Manager. She has been a member of APCO since 1988 and is the Chair of the APCO International’s Member and Chapter Services Committee and is a member of the Standards Development Committee. Debbie is a past President of FL APCO and a past President of the Communications Accreditation Support Network (PSCAN). Debbie is an assessor for both the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA).
Robin Schmidt-Chapter Treasurer
My name is Robin Schmidt and as the Division Manager of Communications, I oversee operations associated with managing a team of over 160 telecommunications professionals and support staff. My experience encompasses over 29 years in public safety communications, 25 of them with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. The Communications Division consists of five independent dispatch/call centers, handling well over one million phone calls annually. The centers are located in West Palm Beach Gun Club HQ, downtown Court House, Belle Glade, PBIA, and Royal Palm Beach. Communications support functions include Teletype, Validations, and CAD/GIS. In addition to the comprehensive law enforcement services provided to thirteen Palm Beach County municipalities I have been a member of APCO since 1989, serving as a Florida Chapter Board of Officer, President and Past President and currently serve as the Chapter Treasurer. My committee experience includes Florida’s, Disaster, TERT, Training, and Law Enforcement.
Lynn Burnside - Chapter Secretary
Lynn Burnside is employed with the Margate Police Department as a Communications Commander.
In 1982, she started her career with Margate as a dispatcher. In 1985 she was promoted to a “Lead Aide Supervisor”. She, then, was promoted to Commander of the Communications Division in June of 1993.
She has been an active member of APCO since 1992. Lynn served as the chairperson of the State Law Enforcement Committee for three years. She also has served on the National Law Enforcement committee and the 9-1-1 committee.
You can reach us by mail at
PO Box 20555
W. Palm Beach, FL 33416
APCO International Conference Sites
1996 – San Antonio
1997 – Charlotte
1998 – Albuquerque
2000 – Boston
2001 – Salt Lake City
2002 – Nashville
2003 – Indianapolis
2004 – Montreal
2006 – Orlando
2007 – Baltimore
2008 – Kansas City
2009 – Las Vegas
2010 – Houston
2011 – Philadelphia
2012 – Minneapolis
2013 – Anaheim
2014 – New Orleans
2015 – Washington DC
2016 – Orlando
Florida APCO/NENA Conference Logos