NEW YORK CITY — Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight received a 2019 ASTOR award recently at the Javits Convention Center in New York City during the International Security Conference East, the largest security conference in the northeastern United States.
Knight was recognized for his leadership and excellence in public safety and the protection of vulnerable children.
Knight was recognized for “Operation Intercept,” an initiative targeted at protecting Sarasota County children from online predators.
Since 2011, the operations have led to the arrest of 156 people who allegedly used the internet to communicate with children for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Over the years as technology has evolved, Knight and his leadership team identified the need to educate parents on their children’s use of the internet and specifically, mobile phones.
In May 2018, the sheriff’s office released “Nine Apps Parents Should Know About,” an educational campaign that focuses on mobile applications predators commonly use to communicate with children. Since then, the list of mobile applications released by the Sheriff’s Office as part of the campaign has grown to 21 and has been featured on several major news networks, local news stations across the country, and social media.
“Any time our agency is recognized for progressive police work on a national level, our community should be really proud,” Knight said. “We’re the only local government agency across the country to be recognized in this capacity during this year’s conference. Congratulations to the men and women of the sheriff’s office who made this award possible.”
The ASTORs are awarded annually at the ISC East conference by American Security Today, a publishing company focused on new and evolving homeland security threats at all levels.