SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight will not seek re-election. After more than 10 years in office, Knight will finish his term and leave the sheriff’s office in 2021.
Sheriff Knight was elected back in 2008. He told us that the last 10 years have brought highs and lows, but after three terms he’s ready for something new. “It’s just the right time to go,” Knight said.
“The Knight’s Watch” is coming to a close in Sarasota County. “Being sheriff takes a lot of energy and you need to make sure you stay energized and make sure you’re doing things for the right reason and nearly 34 years in this line of work is a long time,” Knight said.
A line of work that’s been stressful but rewarding. “The highlight of course is getting rid of the pain clinics, the pill mills, addiction recovery programs inside of our jail, I never believed that we could arrest our way out of addiction,” Knight said.
Or arrest their way out of anything for that matter. As crime rates went up, the number of resources went down. But, the day he swore in, Sheriff Knight vowed to turn the Sheriff’s Office around.
“I never believed that you could just put a ton of cops on the street to suppress crime, we had to have a better strategy," Knight said.
He says he changed the attitude of policing and how deputies interacted with the public and driving crime down 52 percent while still cutting the number of arrests by 3,000 per year. “Looking for different solutions rather than handcuffs," Knight said.
But it wasn’t always easy and there are things he would do differently if given the chance.
“Low points, I would say probably the most disappointing thing was when we have to arrest our own people," Knight said. "A year, year and a half ago, we had to arrest a deputy who, I believe, tried to kill an elderly person.”
Investigating his own, holding them accountable, and helping the helpless, a passion he’ll use to guide his next steps. “There’s so many great opportunities that are non-profits and things involving children that I’m passionate about that I don’t need to wear a uniform and carry a gun to do," Knight said.
Although Sheriff Knight is not exactly sure what those next steps are at this point, he says he is sure that his second in command, Colonel Kurt Hoffman is the right man for his job.
Hoffman officially filed to run for sheriff on Thursday, just hours after Knight’s announcement.