Event at Venice Community Center draws leaders from throughout the county
During a Jan. 5 ceremony that included the military precision of a color guard, at-times tearful anecdotes, and standing ovations, Kurt Alan Hoffman was sworn in as the new Sarasota County sheriff.
Twelfth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Kimberly Bonner did the honors at the Venice Community Center, where supporters had gathered to mark the start of Hoffman’s new position with the department.
Previously, Hoffman served Sheriff Tom Knight as chief deputy and general counsel. After Knight announced his decision not to seek another term — after leading the Sheriff’s Office since 2009 — Hoffman filed campaign papers to seek to succeed Knight.
During the Aug. 18, 2020 Primary Election, Hoffman won 72.61% of the votes cast in the race for sheriff, defeating Paul Fern, a former member of the department.
Serving as mistress of ceremonies for the Jan. 5 event, Kaitlyn R. Perez, community affairs director for the Sheriff’s Office, told the audience that when she had talked with Hoffman about his plans for being sworn in, he told her that he envisioned his wife, Teri, accompanying him to “the quiet chambers of the chief judge” and then returning to work after Bonner officially made him sheriff.
As Perez glanced over at him Hoffman acknowledged, “It’s accurate.”
Then Perez pointed out, “I told him that he deserved to be celebrated and surrounded by the people closest to him … So you can guess who won that argument.”
Nonetheless, she continued, “I promised him that we would have a short and sweet ceremony.”
During his remarks, Hoffman extended his appreciation to many members of the audience, including his former boss.
“Sheriff Knight,” he said, “I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge all you’ve done for me and this agency. You’ve set us on the path to success.”
Hoffman also thanked other law enforcement and fire chiefs, as well as retired chiefs. “We’ve got each other on speed dial,” he noted of his counterparts in other county agencies. After the COVID-19 pandemic ends, he told them, “We’ll find more ways to work better to make this community safe.”
Further, Hoffman talked of his good fortune in having a great working relationship with the Sarasota County Commission. He especially recognized former Commissioner Charles Hines of Venice for helping him on the campaign trail, and he provided a few humorous anecdotes about former Commissioner Carolyn Mason of Sarasota. Audience members laughed as Hoffman recounted Mason’s practice of bringing him her freshly baked banana bread, as well as how he reciprocates in the form of making repairs to her vehicle, calling himself a “jack of all trades.”
Hoffman also thanked municipal leaders in the audience, including Mayor Hagen Brody of Sarasota and North Port Mayor Jill Luke.
As he neared the end of his remarks, Hoffman looked over at his wife, who was seated on the stage, opposite the Sheriff’s Office Command Staff members. “You’ve been a large part of my life,” he told her. “You’ve pinned six or seven of these badges on me over the years, and you’ve always been supportive of me in everything that I’ve done. I love you. Thank you, sweetheart.”
Finally, in closing, Hoffman pointed out, “It’s the citizens of this great county” who are at the top of the Sheriff’s Office’s organizational chart, not the majors or captains or the sheriff. “We cannot lose focus on that. … Just out that door, there are 430,000 people that rely on us every day to provide professional law enforcement services to this community.”
Then Hoffman told the audience members, “I’m humbled by your support of this agency and the men and women in it.”
A brief bio
Hoffman began his law enforcement career in 1989 at the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, a Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office news release noted. In 1997, after earning his Juris Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University, Hoffman became an assistant state attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit, the release continued.
In 2005, he joined the Sheriff’s Office as general counsel “and was soon promoted to the rank of Captain.” Three years later, the release said, “he was promoted to the rank of Major …” In 2014, Sheriff Knight selected Hoffman to serve as colonel and chief deputy “of the nearly 1,000-member agency,” the release pointed out.
In 2019, Knight announced his plans to retire and endorsed Hoffman in the campaign “to become the county’s chief law enforcement officer,” the release added.
“There is nothing better than wearing this uniform and serving the community I grew up in,” said Hoffman in the release. “I am humbled by the opportunity this community has given me and I am excited about the four years ahead. Sarasota County is by far the best place to live in the state of Florida and I can’t think of a better place to take this next step in my career.”
Hoffman earned his Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice from Saint Leo College and his Master of Science in criminal justice from International College, the release noted. He is a graduate of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center’s Police Legal Advisors Training Program and a member of the Florida Bar’s Labor and Employment Law, and City, County and Local Government Law sections, the release pointed out. “In 2011, Sheriff Hoffman completed the FBI’s Florida Executive Development Seminar and in 2013, was invited to attend to the FBI’s National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. While at the academy, Sheriff Hoffman earned a Graduate Certificate in Leadership from the University of Virginia,” the release said.
Hoffman and his wife reside in Venice.
Follow this link for a video message from the new sheriff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IYkQGjm8Zg&t=3s.