Chief Deputy Austin Garrett announces bid for Hamilton County sheriff

Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Austin Garrett announced his plan to run for Hamilton County sheriff in May 2022 on Thursday.

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Austin Garrett on Thursday announced his plan to run for sheriff next year, starting with the Republican primary in May.

In a news release, Garrett said he and his wife Pam McAllister-Garrett have been humbled by the support and encouragement they have received from the community.

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"With 28 years of service to this community as a law enforcement officer, I am proud to announce I will be seeking your support as a candidate in the Republican primary for the office of sheriff. I've been honored to serve these last few years with the men and women of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office," he said. "Together we will focus on the safety of this county through innovation and the commitment of providing the highest level of law enforcement services to our community."

Garrett, 49, seeks to replace current three-term Sheriff Jim Hammond, who was elected in 2008 and is retiring at the end of his current term. Hammond previously endorsed Garrett for the job.

Garrett, a native of Bryant, Alabama, moved to Hamilton County in 1993. He served with the Chattanooga Police Department for 25 years before retiring as a lieutenant. He was responsible for command of the Tactical and Traffic Operations Division. In that role, he managed and led operations, planning and ongoing development for 13 specialized units.

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During his career, Garrett served as a patrol officer, auto theft investigator, FBI Task Force investigator and special events supervisor. He said he has "extensive experience" in public safety partnerships, large-scale event planning and management and was "directly responsible" for the multi-agency planning, managing, security and safety at all major events held in the city of Chattanooga during his last nine years with the city police department. These events include the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, the U.S.A. Pro-Cycling Championships and the annual Riverbend music festival.

He was appointed to his current position by Hammond in February 2019. As chief deputy, he is responsible for the administration of all sheriff's office operations, he said.

Garrett is a graduate of the FBI National Academy Session 273, Southeastern Command and Leadership Academy and holds a degree in criminal justice from Bethel University.

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He also serves as a board member of the Forgotten Child Fund, a volunteer organization that provides gifts to more than 10,000 local children every Christmas, and of the YMCA Community Action Project, which focuses on early intervention and prevention programs for youth ages 10-15.

Garrett and his wife have two daughters and are active members of Shelter Church on East Brainerd Road.

Contact Kelcey Caulder at [email protected] or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @kelceycaulder.