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Apopka Police Hires New Officers


They have military experience, law enforcement experience, hundreds of hours of training at police academies, and now they have badges from the Apopka Police Department. The APD recently hired four new officers – Aaron Gerardi, Lauren Hart, Brian Sorrels and Tim Wallace. The new officers were sworn-in last month, and introduced at the Apopka City Council meeting on Wednesday.

"Chief McKinley told me he only hires the cream of the crop," said Mayor Joe Kilsheimer. "So these new officers represent the best of the best."

The new officers are just a couple of weeks into their training which continues until October, according to APD Captain Randall Fernandez. He also stressed the rigorous nature of becoming a police officer.

"We are proud to have these officers become members of the Apopka Police Department,” said Fernandez. “Just getting through the background and vetting process to be hired is a challenge and these officers represent the best. There is no doubt they will represent our agency and the city well and we know they will serve with distinction."

According to Fernandez, all four officers graduated from an accredited college that provides the basic law enforcement academy. This program consists of at least 770 hours of training in subjects related to law enforcement such as, courtroom demeanor and testifying, report writing, collection and preservation of evidence, interviewing and interrogation techniques, radio communications, patrol techniques, traffic direction, traffic crash investigations, police vehicle operation, defensive tactics, arrest techniques, firearms training, chemical agent application, CPR and first aid, among others. After passing the academy, they must take and pass a cumulative state test to be certified in Florida.

After certification, and once hired by the APD, they spend four weeks in a classroom learning Apopka's computer systems (to include reporting and criminal justice information systems), getting uniforms and gear, and becoming familiar with APD policies and procedures among other basic topics. Additionally, they get issued, practice, and qualify with their handgun, rifle, Taser, baton, and chemical spray.

Apopka Police Department New OfficersAfter completing the classroom education, they are placed in a field training and evaluation program. This consists of five, 3-week phases of education to hone their law enforcement skills on the streets. The first four phases are each progressively more difficult and are designed to make each officer work more and more on their own and have them understand the law, investigative techniques, and the Apopka community. The last phase is strictly a monitoring phase where the trainer monitors the recruit, but the recruit basically works as a solo officer. Once the 15-week field period is completed, the recruit is allowed to work as a solo officer for the APD on a squad.

The 15-week field program may be modified for officers who have prior law enforcement experience, such as Officers Hart and Sorrells. This is done on a case-by- case basis based upon their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

"The department takes the recruit training process seriously and wants to ensure the most qualified, well trained, and skilled officers are retained for the community," said Fernandez.

Here is a brief bio of the four new APD officers:

Aaron Gerardi:

Gerardi moved to Winter Garden from Connecticut in 2004, where he currently resides with his wife and 4-year-old identical twin girls. Before graduating from Valencia College’s School of Public Safety Police Academy, he was a chef for 16 years at restaurants such as The Bay Hill Club and Lodge, and The Four Seasons Orlando at Disney World.

Lauren Hart:

Hart is originally from Apopka. After graduating high school she joined the Army where she completed three overseas deployments – two to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. After leaving the Army, she moved to Mississippi where she became a police officer with The Olive Branch Police Department. In 2014, she moved back to Florida and joined the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.

Brian Sorrels:

Sorrels grew up in an Air Force family and lived all over the world. He graduated high school in Navarre, FL then moved to Oviedo where he met his wife. In 2011, he accepted a job with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office in Cumming, GA where he spent five years as a deputy sheriff.

Tim Wallace:

Wallace was born in Orlando and is an Eagle Scout as well as a member of the Order of The Arrow. He is married to his wife Whitney and although they do not currently have any children they do have a dog named Jarvis. Like Gerardi, he is a graduate from Valencia’s School of Public Safety’s Police Academy.


Apopka Police Department, Captain Randall Fernandez


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