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Going the distance

Fort Lauderdale police officer rises through ranks after earning a bachelor’s degree through FGCU’s online learning program

After two decades as a Fort Lauderdale police officer, Franklin Adderley seized an opportunity to advance his career. He enrolled in FGCU’s distance learning program, earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. “It was such a good fit,” said Adderley, 55, now Fort Lauderdale’s police chief. “It wasn’t like you had to be at a certain classroom on a certain day at a certain time.”

That flexibility allowed then-Sgt. Adderley to continue working nights on the Street Narcotics Unit while emailing research papers and participating in online discussion boards during the day.For the first couple of courses, he drove to campus to meet his professors and take midterms and finals. Then FGCU allowed the Fort Lauderdale police’s training division to provide a proctor for tests so he could take them onsite.

Building on an associate’s degree from Broward College, Capt. Adderley graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from FGCU in 2002. That paved the way for him to be promoted to major in 2006, assistant chief in 2007 and police chief in 2008, becoming the department’s first African-American to hold those ranks.In 2014, he became the first African American president of the Broward County Chiefs of Police Association. “Not only did the classes prepare me professionally, they definitely helped prepare me when it was time for obtaining my master’s,” Adderley said.

He earned a master’s in public administration from Florida International University in 2014. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Executive Institute. As Fort Lauderdale’s police chief, he oversees 523 sworn officers, 190 civilian employees and a $95-million annual budget for a city of 176,000.

His biggest challenge? “It’s maintaining the trust of the people that you serve,” said Adderley, whose department regularly participates in community-building events. He said he decided to become a police officer while growing up in the predominantly African-American Northwest Fort Lauderdale community. “The police’s role was to keep the community safe. I just felt that being a product of the community I’d be able to do that job,” he said.

Adderley graduated from the Broward County Police Academy as the youngest cadet of his class at 19. In 1980, he got a job with the Fort Lauderdale Police. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf, often wearing FGCU golf shirts from the campus bookstore.