Monday July 22nd, 2024 2:10PM

New Helen police chief knows there's a time to have fun and a time to be serious

Helen Police Chief Aletha Barrett is just over a month into her new position, and said she hopes her officers can maintain the fun aspects of the city but will not hesitate to enforce the law.

To accomplish that, Barrett said she wants a community-oriented police department whose officers interact with the public regularly, reinforcing positive behaviors but stopping negative ones when necessary.

Barrett will mark 26 years in law enforcement next month and holding the position in Helen is important to her. Not only is she Helen’s first female chief of police, but her roots in the Helen area run deep.

“It really means the world to me, and I will explain why,” Barrett says. “My family is a Roberts. My mom's parents were Robertses, So Robertstown is heritage for us. I came here growing up from what Helen was very small to now when Helen is large.”

Barrett began working at Helen Police Department in December 2019 and previously held the rank of sergeant.

Prior to that, she served as deputy chief of police for the Cumming Police Department and as Chief Deputy for the Forsyth County Coroner’s Office.

“My husband and I, Chris, we retired from Forsyth County and moved up here to White County to Sautee-Nacoochee when he bought some property when he was in the Army in 1993 and built a house up here about 14 years ago,” Barrett said. “And so, we were able to retire here so this is home to us.”

Barrett was sworn in as chief during a called meeting of the Helen City Commission on May 10.

 “Policing in your home community is important to me,” Barrett said. “I've never really been able to do it. So, it's a challenge, but it's also very rewarding. And then, you know, just being a Roberts from Robertstown is also just a special part to me as well.”

Barrett said her goal for Helen Police Department is to be tough on crime while maintaining the fun atmosphere that draws families to Helen from across the world.

During the recent Bandit Run arrival in Helen, Barrett noted a mutual respect from the community and officers is what allows the fun atmosphere to exist.

“I'm rewriting our mission now and our mission is to be more community oriented, to include our community and be a united front,” Barrett said. “So, if you're in that united front with your community, and you all work well together, you have the support of your community, then we can do things like we're doing today with the Smokey and the Bandit group this came up and just have a good time here. That's what this town is about is having a good time bringing your family here, bringing your friends here and having a good time.”

The department’s two new K-9 officers and their partners have been patrolling Helen for a few weeks now and are making a dent in the drug trade in town.

“I know that there's a lot of users here in this community, and that's not who we're after,” Barrett says. “We're after those causing misery to people's families. So don't come here and sell dope and use drugs or you're going to jail.”

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Business News, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: Helen, Alpine Helen, Helen Police Department, Police Chief Aletha Barrett
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