Master’s Degree Leads to Promotion for Captain Thorpe

Captain Charlie Thorpe USFSM

The Investigations Bureau of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office gained a new captain in February: Charlie Thorpe, a 2013 alumnus of the USFSM Criminal Justice Administration graduate program.

Thorpe believes his recent master’s degree from USFSM played an important role in his promotion and will allow him to serve much more capably.


 Learn more about a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration


“I found the program and format to be outstanding and admittedly more challenging than I expected,” said Thorpe.  “I realized right away that my past formal education, my continuing job related education and my experience certainly didn’t mean that I knew everything.”

In his new position as the Investigations Bureau commander, he is responsible for overseeing multiple investigation oriented sections of the Sheriff’s Office including:  North and South County criminal investigations, special investigations (undercover), intelligence, crime analysis, forensics, victim assistance, the drug lab and the Special Victims Unit.

Within 10 months of graduation, Thorpe became one of ten captains at the sheriff’s office and credits USFSM’s criminal justice administration program for opening his eyes to the necessity of research-based decision making in higher levels of management.

“Research methods, policy analysis and theories have been especially useful and have helped me grasp the necessity of research-based decision making at this level in my career,” said Thorpe. “Having that ability and humility, I think, has helped me have an advantage.”

His past experience includes working as a deputy sheriff in Sarasota County for 24 years and serving in several capacities at various ranks.  Some of Thorpe’s assignments have entailed Patrol, Community Policing, Investigations, Special Operations (Dive Team) and Field Training.

Thorpe began his formal education and career in Ohio, earning an associate’s degree from Clark Technical College in Springfield, Ohio, in 1987.  From there, he attended the University of Akron before becoming a police officer in his home town of Urbana. Two years later, Thorpe moved to Sarasota in 1990 with his new wife, and both have enjoyed building careers and raising a family here.

Thorpe eventually finished his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in 1999 at Saint Leo University. Then in 2008, he attended the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville and realized continuing his education by pursuing a master’s degree would be an inevitable course of action.

He immediately took to the MCJA program at USF Sarasota-Manatee, expressing that the challenging format fit him perfectly. “The struggle was real, but well worth it,” said Thorpe.


 See a full list of graduate degree programs at USFSM


But looking to the future, Thorpe has one more career aspiration in mind. In addition to going as far as he can professionally with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, the new captain desires to teach at some level, perhaps as an adjunct in the USF system.

“I have been very inspired by the experience with acquiring my master’s and hope to pay that forward somehow.”