The Cook family moved to Clay County in the early 80’s when Michelle’s father, a Navy veteran, was stationed at Naval Air Station Cecil Field. Sheriff Cook attended Orange Park Middle School and is a Clay High School graduate.
Sheriff Cook entered the law enforcement profession as a Patrol Officer, working as a beat cop on the street in 1992. With earned promotions throughout her career at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, she retired as a 3-star Director and 3rd in command from the JSO, a 3,300-person agency and the nation’s 25th-largest police department. As Director of Patrol and Enforcement, her responsibilities included the strategic deployment and activities of over 1,000 first responders and community relations personnel and direct management of a budget of over $100 million. She also oversaw the over 1,000 special events that occurred in the downtown Jacksonville area each year. She served as the agency lead on collective bargaining and routinely worked with elected officials while promoting the law enforcement mission.
In 2017, Sheriff Cook accepted the position of Chief of Police for the City of Atlantic Beach, Fl. The Atlantic Beach Police Department (ABPD) is a full-service agency with a 6-million-dollar budget, serves approximately 14,000 residents, and handles approximately 25,000 calls for service each year. Under her leadership, the City of Atlantic Beach saw a decrease in the crime rate and improved employee and citizen morale and support. She is credited with successfully leading the ABPD through the Florida Commission for Law Enforcement Accreditation process. She is also credited for writing the City of Atlantic Beach All-Hazard Response (hurricane) plan.
In early 2020, Sheriff Cook retired from the Atlantic Beach Police Department and began her campaign for Sheriff in the County she was born and raised in. She beat out 5 other candidates to win her primary and was declared the winner of the race for Clay County Sheriff. Shortly after her victory, Governor Ron DeSantis stepped in and asked Michelle to start her term early and on September 1, 2020 she was sworn in as Sheriff of Clay County.
Recognized for her extensive experience and leadership in law enforcement, Sheriff Cook has built a reputation of being a firm, yet compassionate law enforcement leader whose integrity and genuine management style bring respect not only from her work family but also the community she serves.
Sheriff Cook has a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from UNF and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Public Administration. She is also a graduate of the FBI Law Enforcement Executives (LEEDS – Session 80) training and a member of the Florida Sheriff’s Association.
Sheriff Cook currently serves on the following boards and committees:
- Co-Chair – FDLE Regional Domestic Security Task Force
- Board Member – Northeast Florida High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
- Commissioner – Florida Commission for Accreditation
- Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group
- INTERCEPT Executive Board Member
- Zone 3 Task Force Leader – Florida Sheriff’s Association Statewide Task Force
- Committee Member – Florida Sheriff’s Association Research Committee
- Committee Member – Florida Sheriff’s Association Legislative Committee
- Incident Commander – Region 3 All-Hazards Incident Management Team
- President – Clay County Police Athletic League
- Ex-Officio Board Member – Clay County Chamber of Commerce
- HCA Orange Park Hospital Community Advisory Council
Sheriff Cook’s career highlights include:
- Served as the Incident Commander during SWAT/Negotiator call-outs
- Training Academy Director; commanded the firing range, recruiting, basic recruit training, Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission Trust Fund Advanced and Specialized Training, and all police and corrections basic and in-service training requirements
- Assistant Chief of Narcotics and Vice; oversaw all undercover narcotics and vice operations, internet crimes against children, technical support, High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area member
- Chief of Professional Standards; commanded the firing range, training academy, polygraph unit, inspections, internal affairs, accreditation, crime analysis, continuous improvement, fusion center, and information systems management
- Commander of the Intelligence Unit; represented JSO on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, North Florida Fusion Cell, and served as key agency liaison to US Marshals and FBI
- Incident Commander for the North Florida All Hazards Team for hurricane and crisis response. Credentialed through the Emergency Management Institute as an Operations Section Chief and Incident Commander. Sheriff Cook has served as Incident Commander and Operations Section Chief for over 500 unplanned incidents and pre-planned events in the region, combining her extensive knowledge of the Incident Command System with real-world experience handling complex critical incidents
- Instructor/Consultant for an organization that provides training nationally for Active Shooter Incident Management. With her extensive experience and training combined with her hundreds of documented responses to critical incidents, she is one of the lead instructors for the “Command” portion of the training curriculum and provides crucial input and feedback on course development
Sheriff Cook has earned numerous awards for her service, including:
- Law Enforcement Legacy Leader Award
- Contributing Writer/Award Winner – “Police Director’s Consortium”
- Chad Reed First Responder Award for Hurricane preparedness and response
- 6 Pillars of Character Award Winner
- 2021 Best of Clay – Law Enforcement Officer
- 2022 Best of Clay – Law Enforcement Officer
Sheriff Michelle Cook is married to Don, and they have 6 children between them, 4 of whom were adopted out of the local foster care system.