Veteran Paris police officer Curtis Garrett is candidate for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 2
Veteran Paris policeman Curtis Garrett is one of three candidates for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 2 (Paris and Reno), in the March 4 Republican primary.
He opposes Gene C. Hobbs Jr., who was appointed in October 2012 to fill the last 27 months of Ernie Sparks’ term after Sparks retired in September 2012, and former Paris City Councilman and Mayor Jesse James Freelen. All three are running as Republicans without Democratic opposition.
Born and raised in Paris, Garrett graduated from North Lamar High School and worked in construction before joining the Paris Police Department as a 24-year-old police officer in April 1988, right out of the police academy.
At least half of Garrett’s 26 years on the police force were spent as the warrant officer for the Paris Police Department — serving warrants that justices of the peace and other judges issue.
“I’ve served thousands of warrants,” Garrett said, and been at hundreds of arraignments in front of Sparks, who was justice of the peace of Precinct 5, Place 2.
“I worked nine years on patrol, and then I got moved to the warrant officer position and spent 13 years there,” he said.
Garrett, 49, was the police department’s warrant officer for Sparks’ decade as justice of the peace from Jan. 1, 2003, to Sept. 30, 2012.
He and Sparks got to be friends, Garrett said, “because I served so many warrants and worked closely with his office.”
“We played golf together and hunted together, and he and I got to talking about seven years ago, and I told him I’d be interested in the job if he ever retired, but I told him I’d never run against him,” Garrett said.
“He used to work with my dad (Paul Garrett) years ago when they both worked for UARCO, back in the early 70s.”
A justice of the peace has duties with both criminal law and civil law, Garrett noted, and what he’s been dealing with for 26 years is the criminal side, the law enforcement side.
“I would have to learn the civil side, which is not a lot, but there are things you have to learn no matter what job you do. I had to learn how to be the public information officer — what I could put out and what I couldn’t. The same with all the sexual offender stuff,” Garrett said.
Being awakened as a justice of the peace in the middle of the night because of a homicide or fatal accident would not be a big deal for him, he said.
After joining the police department, he spent 21 years on the SWAT team, which meant he was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A little over two years ago, Garrett assumed the duties of the police department’s public information officer and sex offender registrator, plus coordinator of the Lamar County Crime Stoppers.
Garrett also has his master’s peace officer license.
Garrett said he became a police officer because “it was what I always wanted to do. I talked about it when I was a kid.”
He said his job has always been interesting, but because he wears so many hats, it’s a lot of work.
“Between Crime Stoppers and trying to keep the shifts going and being public information officer, I wear a lot of hats. I have about 80 to 85 sex offenders that I deal with in Paris, and trying to keep up with them is a task in itself,” he said.
Running for public office for the first time ever has put even more demands on his time.
“It’s time consuming. I mean, it’s every night of the week, just about. I’ve been out until seven or eight o’clock at night, getting signs out, trying to meet and greet people. You’ve got to have friends who will actually help you do it, you know? You just don’t have time to do it all.”
As a lifelong resident of the area, “I think a lot of people know me. I’ve tried to treat people fair over the years, and I think I have a good following,” he said.
“As warrant officer, I would call people up and say, ‘You know, you need to come in and take care of this before I have to come get you.’ There would be days when I got to work at 8 o’clock, there would be five or six guys sitting in the lobby, waiting for me,” Garrett said.
Garrett was a founding member of the Reno Kiwanis Club and was a member of the Breakfast Optimist Club for several years, including one year as president.
He is active in a men’s Christian fellowship group that meets at noon on Wednesdays, and he is called upon regularly to lead congregational singing at his church, Lamar Avenue Church of Christ.
Garrett and his wife, Kristi, a teacher at Justiss Elementary, will celebrate their 25th anniversary in June. They have a 22-year-old son, Landon, who has been stationed in Alaska and Afghanistan while in the military.
Growing up, he played baseball up through junior high. His last year in Little League, he had the highest batting average in the league, he said. But unlike his father, who was a member of a state basketball championship when he was a junior at Blossom High School in 1958, he wasn’t a great athlete, he said.
During the spring and summer, Garrett is a baseball umpire.
“I have actually called playoff games every year that I’ve been an official. I’d rather umpire baseball than eat. I love baseball and always have,” he said.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra