Tom Knight (Incumbent)
Sheriff Tom Knight is the 10th sheriff of Sarasota County, serving since January 6, 2009. To pursue this office, he left a 20-year career with the Florida Highway Patrol, completing his tenure there as troop commander for the Tampa Bay Region. In this capacity he managed a seven-county region and more than 300 employees, a central communications center and a $20 million budget. It was there that he developed a reputation for building and fostering positive intra-agency relationships and working cooperatively with other organizations to ensure the best possible public service.
Since taking over the helm of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Knight has conducted a comprehensive review of agency operations and has implemented a four-year strategic plan to provide the most cost-effective law enforcement services possible to the citizens of Sarasota County. As part of this effort, he has been responsible for the creation and implementation of many new initiatives that are addressing local crime problems and making better use of taxpayer dollars, from a model pharmaceutical diversion unit to combat the illegal use of prescription drugs to a sentenced defendant work program, addiction recovery pods in the jail and a partnership with the federal government that has resulted in the deportation of hundreds of criminal illegal aliens.
The Sheriff’s Office has an $87 million budget and is comprised of three divisions representing law enforcement, courts and corrections, and administration. This includes the county’s Public Safety Communications Center and its Animal Services shelter. Nearly 1,000 men and women work under the direction of Sheriff Knight to provide law enforcement services to the community and their work is continually assessed to ensure the most efficient service possible.
Sheriff Knight has lived in Florida since 1973 when his family moved to Sarasota County from western Pennsylvania. He graduated from Venice High School in 1981, attended Manatee Junior College and later transferred to Florida State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology in 1986. Sheriff Knight and his wife Tracy have two daughters and currently reside in Nokomis.