Sheriff Knowles a first in Ozaukee

First woman to lead department is sworn into office by a judge who knows about blazing trails, calls county’s top cop a role model who has earned the position regardless of gender

CHRISTY KNOWLES (left) posed with Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams shortly after Williams swore her in as Ozaukee County sheriff, making her the first woman to hold that office. Williams became the first woman to be elected judge in Ozaukee County in 2009. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff


Ozaukee Press staff

Before a standing-room only crowd in Branch 3 courtroom of the Ozaukee County Justic Center in Port Washington Christy Knowles was sworn in Monday as the first female sheriff in the history of the county.

Swearing her in, appropriately, was Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Sandy Williams, as Chief Judge Paul Malloy looked on.

Williams was the county’s first woman assistant district attorney when she joined the office in 1983, the first female district attorney when she was elected in 1987 and the county’s first female Circuit Court judge when she was elected to the bench in 2009.

Administering the oath of office to Knowles was a “privilege and honor,” Williams said.

“It was so pleasant for me to be able to do so as I have had the opportunity to observe Christy for many years,” Williams said.

“It is nice to see that what has been traditionally a male-dominated role is now one that will be held by a female -although when I hear anyone speaking of the newly elected sheriff, I only hear how excited they are to have such a qualified person in charge,” Williams said.

“Being the first elected female sheriff in Ozaukee County allows Christy to serve as a role model for other females, proving that hard work, dedication and perseverance allows you to reach any goal you set for yourself.”

Knowles succeeds Jim Johnson, who was first elected in 2014 and was a member of the department for 31 years.

Knowles run for office was endorsed by Johnson, whom she considers a mentor.

“She has a passion for the community and the law enforcement profession,” Johnson said. “She understands the community. Her experience and leadership speak for themselves. She truly cares about our citizens and  doing the right things for the right reasons.”

Williams agreed.

“Right from the start (of her career), you knew she had a strong ability to connect with people, she understood the law and had an incredible sense of fairness and justice. Her talents continued to develop in each role she held and the respect she gained from fellow co -workers, community leaders, and justice system partners grew continuously,” she said.

“Her qualifications, personality and ethics will serve her well as she leads law enforcement in Ozaukee County as Sheriff.”

Knowles, 45, is a 22-year veteran of the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office and has served as a jailer, patrol officer, detective, lieutenant in charge of patrol and captain of operations before being named undersheriff — the second highest ranking office in the department — in 2019.

The only position in the department she hasn’t held was sergeant, going from detective to lieutenant.

Knowles has said that being the first woman sheriff in Ozaukee County was not what drove her to seek the position.

“Every position I’ve had, you know you’re the first female. I am a minority when it comes to this position,” she said when she announced her candidacy.

“I love where I work. We have good people, dedicated,” she said. “We have a great agency. We really live and work in a great community.”

Knowles is a graduate of the Northwestern University Police Staff and Command College and the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

She is a certified defense and arrest tactics instructor who teaches at the Waukesha County Technical College law enforcement recruit academy.

A native of Cedar Grove who now lives in Belgium, Knowles is a mother of three teenagers — James, 18, Madilyn, 16, and Vince, 14, — who were on hand at Tuesday’s ceremony.

All in all, it was a day to remember, Knowles said.

“It was a very surreal day for me. The number of people who attended my swearing in to show their support for me was incredible and very appreciated,” she said. “I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at and look forward to January to serve Ozaukee County as their sheriff.”









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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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