Indian River County Sheriff Candidates for the 2020 Primary Election

2020 Indian River County Sheriff Candidates
2020 Indian River County Sheriff Candidates

We contacted each of the five Indian River County Sheriff candidates for a bio and asked them why they feel they are the best for the position.

It looks like we have some great candidates in the running.

There are four Republicans and one Democrat running for office. The Republican primaries will be next month.

Major Eric Flowers
Major Eric Flowers

Major Eric Flowers Bio – Republican

I began my career with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office in 2003, after being moved to serve my community following the attacks of September 11, 2001. I am a graduate of Sebastian River High School and hold a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Stetson University, and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida. Additionally, I am a doctoral candidate in the College of Health and Public Affairs, also at U.C.F.; I am a graduate of the 270th session of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy program, Leadership Indian River, and Leadership Florida’s Connect Class IX. In 2019, I was honored to be named one of the 40 Under 40 Awardees from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. I was the first member of a Florida sheriff’s office to receive this distinction.

I have served the citizens of Indian River County as a patrol deputy, a field-training officer, S.W.A.T. team and honor guard member, undercover detective, detective sergeant, lieutenant of public affairs, Major of the Bureau of Administration, and now in my current role as the Major of the Bureau of Law Enforcement. Additionally, I serve as the spokesperson and public information officer for the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.

Further, I served on the board for SafeSpace, the Treasure Coast’s only domestic violence shelter, and outreach program for six years, including a term as the board’s president. I currently serve on the boards of United Way, Kids Tag Art, and the Senior Collaborative.

My wife Rachel and I, along with our four-year-old son and our entire family, are proud to call Indian River County our home.

Why Major Flowers is Running for Sheriff:

I have grown up in Indian River County, having attended and graduated from Sebastian River High School. I was blessed to be hired as a Deputy Sheriff to protect our county. All of my immediate family and my wife’s family live here. I know how special Indian River County is to me, and I am running to be your Sheriff to ensure that Indian River County will continue to be that special place for my son and generations to come. Our county founders had the foresight to establish building codes and other regulations to keep our little paradise different from other places. It is my goal to honor their legacy by protecting our community and keeping us from becoming South Florida or overrun like other counties. Along my career path, I had employment opportunities at the federal level but declined those offers, knowing I would one day be in a position to run to be your Sheriff. I am committed to our community, committed to protecting your family and mine, and dedicated to the future of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.

Chief Rich Rosell
Chief Rich Rosell

Chief Rich Rosell Bio – Republican

Rosell is currently the Police Chief for the Town of Indian River Shores, the former Director of Public Safety for both the Town of Dover, NJ, and Township of Springfield, NJ.

He is a 27 year veteran of the New Jersey State Police, where he held many operational command positions, retiring as a Captain.

As the only candidate in the race who has served as the chief executive in three different agencies, as well as his unparalleled experience, Rich is, without equal, the most experienced and qualified candidate in the race. In fact, in the most important facets of law enforcement, the other three candidates combined don’t match his experience. That is a fact.

He started his law enforcement career almost thirty-nine years ago, enlisting in the New Jersey State Police. Never anticipating he would ever end up running for the Office of Sheriff anywhere, let alone Indian River County, Rich has spent that entire thirty-nine-year career creating one of the most impressive resumes in law enforcement.

He created that resume so he could be the most experienced, most qualified, and most accomplished public servant for the benefit of the public for whom he serves, not his own. This resume took him a lifetime to achieve, while the other candidates have only spent their recent histories working on their’s for the sole purpose of running for Sheriff.

Check out his experience, on his website, at RichRosell4Sheriff.com.

Additionally, Rosell is a nationally recognized expert in Homeland Security. He has managed natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina, Irene, Matthew, Irma, and Sandy. Rosell authored several Homeland Security and Antiterrorism strategies and has published a Homeland Security thesis in the Homeland Security Digital Library in Monterey.

He has also been a nationally recognized expert in drug enforcement, having been utilized by the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.) as a primary lecturer throughout the country, and even internationally.

Rosell has posted a comprehensive platform on his Facebook page; RichRosell4Sheriff. He is the first candidate to post such a platform, and its content speaks for itself. He is the only candidate who, on his first day, can implement change based on what he has already accomplished in law enforcement. The other candidates can only try to implement change on what they would like to do, or what they have read about in books.

Rosell is currently enrolled in Drew University’s Doctor of Letters program. He already has a Bachelor’s Degree from Thomas Edison State University, a Master’s Degree from Seton Hall University, and a Master’s Degree from the Naval Postgraduate School.

He is a published author of several public safety-related articles in law enforcement and investigative magazines and is currently a staff writer for a law enforcement periodical.

Chief Rosell also has extensive experience teaching at the graduate level as an adjunct professor for Seton Hall and Fairleigh Dickinson Universities, as well as decades of police and military training experience.

He is a veteran of the US Marines, the Army National Guard, and the U.S. Army Reserve.

Why Chief Rosell Thinks You Should Vote for Him:

“I am the most experienced, qualified, and accomplished law enforcement candidate in the race. Help move the Sheriff’s Office forward, not backward; vote experience. Vote Rich Rosell for Sheriff,” Chief Rosell told Sebastian Daily.

Chief Keith Touchberry
Chief Keith Touchberry

Chief Keith Touchberry’s Bio – Republican

Currently, the police chief for the City of Fellsmere, Keith Touchberry, has been a police officer in Indian River County since 1989. He served as a Vero Beach officer from 1989 to 2013 until he left as a Captain and second in command to become the police chief in Fellsmere. Chief Touchberry has held numerous assignments throughout his career to prepare him for executive-level policing to include patrol, K-9, SWAT, criminal investigations, accreditation, training, supervision, and command level management.

Prior to his career in law enforcement, he served in the Army Reserve for 18 months until joining the active-duty ranks of the Marine Corps, where he served for six and a half years in the infantry field. He was honorably discharged as a sergeant.

Chief Touchberry is a member of numerous non-profit and other law enforcement-based organizations. He is a member of and has been endorsed by the Florida Police Chiefs Association. He is the Chairman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Region 11 Training Council, a past chairman for the Executive Roundtable of I.R.C. and the Public Safety sub-committee of the Opioid Task Force of the Treasure Coast. He is a founding member of the Fellsmere Action Community Team (FACT), a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing crime and improving the quality of life in Fellsmere through partnerships in the community. FACT serves as a means to implement the Chief’s award-winning policing philosophy known as “partner institution policing.”

Chief Touchberry has a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida and is a graduate of the prestigious Southern Police Institutes “Administrative Officers Course” held only twice a year at the University of Louisville. He is also the primary ethics instructor for the Florida Institute of Technology online undergraduate level criminal justice program, the I.R.S.C. criminal justice leader program, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s “Leadership Academy.”

Chief Touchberry and his wife Kimberly have been married for 29 years, and they have two children.

Why Vote for Chief Touchberry as IRC Sheriff:

I believe people should vote for me because of my vision for policing that, once achieved, will reduce crime and enhance the quality of life in Indian River County. The vision is centered around my “partner institution policing” philosophy and was created after receiving input from the community during twelve town hall meetings conducted since June 2019. The vision is summarized on my website in my four-point “FIRE PLAN” at votetouchberryforsheriff.com. I believe people should also vote for me because I have the knowledge, ability, and experience to address the leadership deficiencies at the Sheriff’s office that has reduced the morale, proficiency, discipline, and overall “esprit de corps” of sheriffs personnel. The result of poor leadership has caused a loss of respect for and trust in our Sheriff’s office, and our community is being underserved as a result.

Retired Sheriff's Capt. Chuck Kirby
Retired Sheriff’s Capt. Chuck Kirby

Retired Sheriff’s Capt. Chuck Kirby Bio – Republican

Chuck Kirby is currently a Republican candidate running for Indian River County Sheriff. As a 26 year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, Chuck had extensive experience in all three Bureaus: Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Administration before retiring at the rank of Captain in 2018.

His prior assignments also include roles as a Strategic Planner, Grants Manager, Intelligence Officer, Deputy-Division Commander of Criminal Investigations, Director of the Multi-Agency Criminal Enforcement Unit, Judicial Services Lieutenant and Uniform Division Watch Commander. He was the leader of the Special Operations Section with oversight of the Sheriff’s Office Aviation, Ag-Marine, Traffic, K-9, Reserve, and School Resource Units.

Captain Kirby was the recipient of Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Life-Saving Award, the Sheriff’s Office Life Saving Award, and the Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award during his rookie year in the Uniform Patrol Division.

As both a former enlisted soldier and sailor, Chuck served as an Infantry Drill Sergeant in the United States Army, and later as a Coxswain and Chief Boatswain’s Mate in the U.S. Coast Guard. Chuck earned his commission in 2003 and was deployed for six years in the decade following the tragic events of 911 before retiring as a Chief Warrant Officer (CWO4) with over 36 years of combined active/reserve military service.

Chief Warrant Officer Kirby was the recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal, two Coast Guard Commendation Medals, two Coast Guard Achievement, and the Navy/ Marine Corps Achievement Medals, all with the operational distinguishing device.

Chuck and his wife Cindy have four children and six grandchildren.

Why Chuck Kirby Running for Sheriff:

“I am running for Sheriff because I believe that we (all) deserve better!
Voters should demand integrity and credibility; qualities that are neither groomed nor created simply because one holds an elected or appointed position of power. They come from a well-established set of values, consistently articulated and acted upon over a long period of time,” Kirby told Sebastian Daily.

“This race is about experience! I have 26 years of institutional knowledge at the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. I possess the political will to reform the agency to show humanity and compassion for those we serve and the experience to stand side by side with our deputies to support a change in culture,” Kirby added.

My Goals as Sheriff:

1. Shift the focus of our policies and practices to prioritize the sanctity of human life while implementing strategies that do not result in racial disparities.
2. Take a data-driven approach to focus resources where they will best achieve our defined core missions: to protect our community, prevent crimes, and solve problems.
3. Attract and retain the best and brightest employees by establishing a competitive step-pay plan; and a fair, consistent process for promotions and selections to return the Sheriff’s Office to the list of “Best Places to Work” in Indian River County.
4. Curtail year-end spending surges and return unused funds to the taxpayers.
5. Transform the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office into a model agency that will follow best practices for handling public records requests.

(Photo not available)

Deborah Cooney Resume – Democrat

Valedictorian, Diploma – W. Boylston High School (MA) 1980
Top student in class
Delivered Valedictory speech
Achieved 4.0 grade point average
Received Brown University Book Award
Received numerous awards and recognition
Bachelor of Arts – Economics – Brown University (RI) 1984
Ivy League Degree
Among the best and the brightest students
Studied alongside J.F.K., Jr., Billy Mondale, the Prince of Jordan, etc.
Awarded partial scholarship
Credit Analyst – Citizen’s Bank (RI) 1984-7
Assessed creditworthiness of borrowers
Made loan recommendations to Credit Committee
Asst. Vice President – People’s Bank (MA) 1987-94
Personally managed $10,000,000 loan portfolio
Voting member of Credit Committee approving over $100,000,000 in loans
First female member of Credit Committee
Promoted from Loan Officer to Asst. Vice President in less than 5 years
President and C.E.O. – Academy of the Stars (F.L., various locations) 1994-present
Managed advertising, business development, contract labor, finances, etc.
Educator and mentor for aspiring students
Civil Rights Advocate (FL, various locations) 2008-present
Prosecuted police and official misconduct
Filed for an injunction against I.R.C. Sheriff’s narcotics trafficking
Countless hours of volunteer work for the public health and justice
Received high praise from numerous attorneys and members of the Bar
Why Vote Deborah Cooney

“The constitutional candidate – restore constitutional rights.”

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges was born in Annapolis, Maryland and raised in Jupiter, Florida. Andy has been a radio & TV personality since the 1980s. He has worked for WLIZ, WFLX-FOX 29, WIRK, WIXI, WKSY, WRMF, and WJNO to name a few. After spending 7 years in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1990s, Andy returned to Florida and settled in the small town of Sebastian in 2000. In 2005, he returned to the broadcasting news sector and eventually joined our news team in 2016 as editor in chief. Andy's family has lived in Sebastian for more than 45 years.