Will Garrett says his experience has prepared him to serve as White County sheriff and take on the responsibilities of serving the community.
Garrett, 39, recently told the White County News he plans to qualify for the 2020 sheriff’s race as a Republican. He said he was raised in White County, where his family has roots.
“This is just my home,” Garrett said. “I want to make sure this is a safe community for [my kids] and that my grandkids are happy and can play and enjoy themselves without having fears.”
Garrett said he had two stints with the White County Sheriff’s Office, which covered about 12 years. He said he benefitted working under Sheriff Neal Walden, who will be retiring, and believes he is ready to take the lead on law enforcement.
“That’s some big shoes [to fill], and you’re going to have some broad shoulders to do that,” he said.
Garrett said he worked in the detention center and in patrol during his time at the WCSO and learned much from supervisors.
“It helped guide my career and helped me be a better deputy, a better supervisor,” he said. “I feel like it’s time to take a leap of faith and go for the job of sheriff.”
Garrett is a lieutenant with the Cleveland Fire Department. He drives a truck for Wilcorp, a company in Clarkesville, and works part-time for the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, where he handles out-of-state transports, courthouse duties and special events.
Garrett says his time working on the front lines of law enforcement have helped him develop how the agency would operate with him as sheriff. That includes maintaining transparency with constituents through a community policing approach.
“I think that if you don’t stay in contact with the community, they’re going to feel like they can’t trust you, they can’t depend on you,” he said.
“I want to make sure the community knows what’s going on within the walls of the sheriff’s office. It’s not necessarily lacking here, but there’s a lot of questions the community has, but sometimes they don’t get the answers they want.”
Garrett said along with sharing more information and staying in contact with concerned residents, another way to make people feel more connected to the WCSO would be to implement a citizen’s police academy.
“I think that’s something that should have been going on in this community for a long time.”
Likewise, he said he would like to evaluate options to include more children in a junior deputies academy.
He also sees the local drug court as a beneficial program and wants to continue to work to help residents battling addiction.
Garrett said he will be active in the community as sheriff. That means aiding with patrol and at the jail and visiting with residents, as well as maintaining an open door policy.
“I’m not going to ask my folks to do anything that I’m not willing to do myself,” he said. “I want to be known as the people’s sheriff. I want folks to know you can get a hold of me.”
While the county’s population and service call volume continue to grow, Garrett said he would like for deputies to do more to stay in touch with complainants about their cases and any developments.
“I want to make sure we’re keeping in contact,” he said. “I think that’s just good business.”
If elected, Garrett said he could foresee some reorganization in the sheriff’s office, such as letting the patrol division work on being present around neighborhoods and speaking with residents about criminal activity concerns, while letting a traffic division focus on stopping violators on the road in the hope of ensuring voluntary compliance of the law.
Garrett said he would like to leave a lasting impact from running the sheriff’s office.
“You ought to be proud of it. It ought to be something that when you leave the sheriff’s office, you leave a legacy of a department that folks want to continue working hard for.”
For more information on local positions up for election in 2020, click here.