During the opening ceremony for the sprawling $4.1 million complex on Chattin Drive, the Sheriff thanked many, including Cherokee County’s residents, for their work to get the facility up and running.
“We’re very proud of the accomplishment. It’s a beautiful facility,” Garrison said. “The taxpayers of Cherokee County have always been great supporters of public safety, and this is a testament to that.”
He was also proud to have the center bear his name — especially because its purpose is one of his passions in law enforcement.
“My entire 21 years has been about training and education,” said Garrison, who is serving his sixth and final term in office after being elected in 1992. “I was so blessed a couple months ago for the (Board of Commissioners) to decide to actually name this facility (after me).”
The board of commissioners surprised the Sheriff in May when they voted to name the center the Roger D. Garrison Law Enforcement Training Center.
Cherokee Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens told the attendees Wednesday that the new training center would help officials like Garrison keep “raising the bar” for public safety.
“We’re really proud of all our public safety (departments), who receive state and regional recognition,” he said.
Ahrens said Cherokee County is certainly proud to have Garrison as its Sheriff.
He’s “tops in the state,” the chairman said.
Ahrens also noted the collaborative effort it took between Cherokee County and the state of Georgia to build the training center.
During the planning for the multi-million-dollar complex complete with shooting ranges and 11,000 square feet of classroom space, officials said Cherokee County came up $700,000 shy of being able to fund the construction, because of a shortfall in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.
But the state of Georgia chipped in the difference to help, and the training center will also serve as the Georgia Public Safety Training Center Cherokee, as a result.
“This is another example of partnerships and innovative solutions,” Ahrens said.
Garrison said Georgia Public Safety Training Center Director Tim Bearden had a lot to do with the state stepping up to cover the funding shortfall.
Bearden, though, said if it weren’t for Garrison, the training center wouldn’t be what it is.
“Most of all, to Sheriff Garrison, I want to say ‘Thank you,’ for your vision, your leadership,” Bearden said to the Sheriff Wednesday, “because without your help, a lot of this would not be possible.”
State Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) also praised Garrison during the ceremony and said the state hopes the training center will be a tool in the toolbox of public safety workers across Georgia.
“The state plays several roles in government, but there’s no role that’s more important than public safety and keeping our citizens safe,” Beach said. “I will just tell you, we are glad to be part of this.”
Garrison believes the training center will live up to the state’s expectations.
“This facility will have a regional impact on law enforcement to be felt for years to come,” he said.