Sheriff Chris Nocco was handpicked by the governor last spring. Now he wants to earn the job the conventional way — at the ballot box.
Nocco, 35, filed initial papers Tuesday to run for a full four-year term in this fall's election. He was appointed to the post last April.
Nocco came to the Sheriff's Office as a captain in March 2009. He came from Tallahassee, where he was chief of staff of the Florida Highway Patrol and worked for several years as a top staffer for then-House Speaker Marco Rubio. Before that, he spent about six years in law enforcement at various agencies, with his longest stint as a police officer in Fairfax County, Va.
Opening an official campaign allows Nocco to raise and spend money toward his election effort.
Nocco touted his efforts to introduce "intelligence-led policing" to the agency. That approach, which has gained steam since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, focuses on gathering data to better anticipate crime trends.
"We want to build that safe community where people want to come to Pasco County and they want to invest in Pasco County," Nocco said.
Former sheriff's Capt. Kim Bogart, 59, a Democrat running to replace Nocco, said he supports intelligence-led policing. He said such a move likely wouldn't have happened under retired Sheriff Bob White, whom he called "closed minded." But Bogart said his law enforcement experience makes him the better person to put the approach into place.
"I don't believe (Nocco) has the experience to implement those concepts thoroughly," he said. "We should be fine-tuning these processes today, not just beginning an implementation stage."
Three other candidates have filed for the office.
Republican Michael Foxx, 65, is a retired Hillsborough sheriff's sergeant.
Republican Roger Fortney, 58, worked as a deputy for 23 years in the Pasco Sheriff's Office.
Democrat Larry Roberts, 64, is also running.
A Philadelphia native, Nocco earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and master's in public administration from the University of Delaware.
He and his wife, Bridget, have three children. Bridget Nocco commutes between the family's Odessa home and Tallahassee, where she works as a Republican fundraiser for a powerful lobbying firm.
Staff writer Erin Sullivan contributed to this report. Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected]