Spangler greets supporters at Corryton campaign stop

By Ken Lay

Tom Spangler has dedicated the majority of his life to law enforcement and now he’s making a bid to become Knox County’s next sheriff.

“I knew, from the time that I was in the Air Force, that I wanted to go into law enforcement,” Spangler told his supporters Thursday night at a meet and greet at the Corryton Community and Senior Center. “I finished my tour in 1980 and I knew that I wanted to go into law enforcement because I spent the last two years of my tour in the military police.”

Spangler, who has 35 years of law enforcement experience, began his tenure at the Knox County Sheriff’s Department as a corrections officer upon returning to East Tennessee after he was honorably discharged from the Air Force.

“As soon as I came home from military service, I went to work for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office,” Spangler said.

During his time serving in Knox County, Spangler, a Carter High School graduate, has worked in all areas of the sheriff’s department. After a time in corrections, he became a patrolman, and administrator. He later served as a Chief Deputy under two sheriffs. He also trained officers in both Knox and Blount County. He worked in Blount County after retiring from Knox County and spending time as a professional fisherman.

“I started the training program in Knox County,” Spangler said. “We had to send our deputies to Nashville to train them. Then, I retired to become a professional fisherman because I love to fish.”

He returned to law enforcement training at the behest of Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong. He trained Blount County officers and while there, he trained a few to work in Knox County.

“I’ve worked in every part of the sheriff’s office, so that gives me a unique perspective. The people in the sheriff’s office want a leader. They want a leader who has their back. But they also want a leader, who holds people accountable. They want to know that if somebody does something wrong, that they won’t get by with it.”

Spangler almost always had aspirations to be Knox County’s sheriff. He served as interim sheriff in 2007 after Black Wednesday.

“I thought about this, 10 years ago before I retired, but the timing just wasn’t right,” he said.

“I will bring experience to the office. I will bring administrative experience and I’ll bring law enforcement experience. I was a Chief Deputy under two different sheriffs and that means a lot to me that two different people thought enough of me to let me do that.”

He said that he left Blount County to focus his efforts to run for office in Knox County. He said that he did so to eliminate the perception that he was working in Blount County while seeking office in a neighboring county.

Spangler’s chief concerns are safety and combatting the opioid epidemic.

“I am passionate about your safety,” he said. “Safety in our streets, with our kids, within our schools, in your homes and in your subdivisions.

“The other thing is the opioid epidemic. We’re going to enforce the laws and we’re going to go after the heroin dealers. We’re going to educate. And when I say educate, we’re going to start educating in the second and third grade. And we’re going to treat people once we arrest them.”

Spangler noted that he is opposed to making the county jails into treatment jails but said that he would favor getting treatment for those doing time. He also said that their crimes will not go unpunished. “The victims of those crimes will not be forgotten.”

A longtime Corryton resident who still attends church in the community, Spangler now resides in South Knox County.