Though he announced his candidacy for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in February, Officer Tom Spangler has been preparing for the office for much longer.
A graduate of Carter High School, Spangler spent four years in the Air Force before joining the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in 1980 as a jailer. Between that time and his eventual retirement in Dec. of 2009, he experienced nearly every facet of the job, including roles as a detective, patrol work, corrections and even a 14 year stint as a SWAT team member. After leaving the KCSO, he served as the training director for the Blount County Sheriff’s Office until Dec. of last year. As he sees it, his experience sets him apart.
“That says something about my career in law enforcement that I started from the bottom,” Spangler said. “My experience overwhelmingly makes me the better candidate.”
To date, Spangler is the only candidate to turn in a petition to the Knox County Election Commission for the May 1 election, though KCSO’s Chief of Administration Lee Tramel announced his candidacy in March.
Spangler’s hopes for the KCSO is the preservation of public safety, though he also hopes to bolster recruiting efforts. Despite the city’s growth, the KCSO has seen a shortage of police officers in the past few years, a problem Spangler hopes to address.
“We’ve lost respect for our law enforcement, and we’ve got to be able to build that back within the agency and then to the community,” Spangler said. “We’ve got to get back into the community and make sure that they are in a trusting manner with law enforcement and know that that’s somebody there for them… It’s tough to get people to come into this profession when they’re being attacked like that.”
Noting a shift in public opinion towards officers of law since he began working as a police officer, Spangler believes the solution lies both in providing his officers with the proper tools needed for success while still approaching the job from a progressive standpoint. “I believe very strongly in progressive law enforcement, and when I say progressive I don’t mean aggressive.”
The election for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office begins with early voting Apr. 11, 2018, with final Election Day following on May 1, 2018.

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