Thomas J. Bensley attended Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. After three years of service with the United States Army, he began his law enforcement career as a seasonal marine officer for the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office in 1971.
He was hired full time in the spring of 1974 as a road patrol law enforcement officer. In May of 1983 he was assigned as the supervisor of the marine safety section. Bensley later became the supervisor for the snowmobile and off-road vehicle programs and was a member of the Sheriff’s Office dive team for 35 years.
Sheriff Bensley retired in 1999 after being selected the first Employee of the Year for the Sheriff’s Office in 1985 and having been awarded two Awards of Merit for outstanding performance of duty. Sheriff Bensley was elected in 2008 as the 34th Sheriff of Grand Traverse County.