Originally written and reported by Alex Tiegen May 2, 2011
Chris Nocco stood before his employees, family and former boss Sunday morning and made his first speech as Pasco County Sheriff.
“I have a promise for our deputies that I have said before: We will be working together side by side.” He recited a Latin phrase he said meant “’We fight as one” “And we will fight as one,” he affirmed.
At least 70 people had gathered to see Nocco sworn in at the Youth Building and Worship Center at in Pasco County.
Nocco’s mother, Linda Nocco, was there. So were his siblings. And his wife Bridget. And his three children. And Sheriff's deputies, command staff, county commissioners, notable locals and volunteers.
"For our citizens, I want to say thank you very much," Nocco said. "You've given the Pasco Sheriff's Office tremendous responsibility, and I promise you we will respond. We will give you that peace of mind, so that you know that family members ours safe, your children are safe in school and we will be locking up bad people and putting them in jail."
The youngest sheriff in recent memory, Nocco, 35, was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott April 25 to finish out Bob White’s third term on the job, which runs through the end of 2012.
Bill Gunter, a chaplain with the Sheriff’s Office and pastor at Redeemer, gave Nocco three tips: Remember, who you are, remember why you’re here and remember God’s purpose for you. The law enforcement officer is a servant of God who is responsible for “carrying out God’s wrath on evildoers.” Nocco is responsible for enforcing not only civil law but also God’s moral law, he said.
“It simply means you’ve been given by God great responsibility that has amazing power to it, as well as authority,” he said. “But it is a challenge to you to never forget to whom you are ultimately responsible to. Never forget who has the ultimate authority. Power over you.”
White, who served on the job Saturday, April 30, said he is “incredibly proud” of Nocco. White said in March that he was retiring to spend more time with his granddaughter but has been rumored to be in line for a state appointment by Scott, on whose transition team he serves. He has denied those rumors.
“I will tell you that being sheriff has been the highest honor of my life," White said to Nocco before swearing him into the job, "and I know how you feel about it, and I know that's the way you approach it."
Nocco spoke of how the job was not about him. To the press, he repeated the pledges that he made when announced he was applying for the job. He wants to crack down on the illegal prescription pill trade, make schools safer and protect and support his deputies.
What will be his first major act?
"Probably to talk with our deputies," he said. "...Sit with our deputies and learn from them and see what they want us to do and move forward that way. ...You're going to see a lot of changes in our Sheriff's Office because that is the right thing to do, and it makes our deputies safer."