Honoring Chief Terry Garrett for 14 years of service to the City of Heath

Retiring Heath DPS Chief Terry Garrett and family.

(City of Heath, Texas, May 29, 2020) Last night the City of Heath and Department of Public Safety hosted a Drive-By Farewell Salute to honor DPS Chief Terry Garrett as he retires from the City after 14 years of service.

The “parade” in Towne Center Park was led by the Rockwall County Sheriff’s Posse and included an impressive showing of First Responders from surrounding cities as well as leadership from the City of Heath, Rockwall County and State of Texas.

First Responders throughout Rockwall County and surrounding cities showed up in full force to salute retiring Heath DPS Chief Garrett.

“We are grateful for Terry Garrett’s dedicated service to the citizens of Heath,” said City of Heath Mayor Kelson Elam. “He has led the DPS with expertise, experience and the utmost concern for his officers and our community. We congratulate and thank him as he retires from Heath.”

Chief Garrett came to the City of Heath in 2006 after serving the citizens Rockwall for 26 years as a patrol officer, where he initiated the department’s crime prevention program, conducted juvenile investigations and public information duties, and was the lieutenant in charge of criminal investigations, records, evidence, training and community service. He was also an active member of the Rockwall Volunteer Fire Department, serving as chief and training officer. He is a dive/recovery specialist with certification from the Underwater Institute/SWTSU.

“When we hired Terry Garrett, my hope was that he would set a new standard for professionalism for every Heath officer,” said John Ratcliffe, incoming National Director of Intelligence and former U.S. Representative, 4th District of Texas and Mayor of Heath.Every single day for the next 14 years, Terry served our city honestly, faithfully, tirelessly and never swerved from the path of duty or integrity. Great leaders do more than utter the right words–they live by them. Terry Garrett has done that, and a grateful City of Heath is better because of it.”

The Rockwall County Sheriff’s Posse led the Drive-By Farewell Salute to retiring Heath DPS Terry Garrett.

As director of the Department of Public Safety, Chief Garrett has skillfully led an agency where each officer is certified as a police office, fire fighter and EMT.  During his impressive career, Chief Garrett built a long list of legacy achievements from procuring the beautiful and thoroughly modern 2017 Spartan Custom Cab Fire Engine, to increasing school safety at Heath campuses in a positive pioneer manner that benefited the entire Rockwall ISD.

“Terry has been a shining example of what commitment to public safety and community service is all about. I will miss his expertise, witty personality and dedication,” said Aretha Adams, City Manager of Heath. 

For the past 14 years, Chief Garrett’s DPS office has been located on the same site where his mother was born during the rural era of Heath’s history. The waterfront park where citizens relax was named for the Terry Family, who owned and farmed the land along Terry Lane before Lake Ray Hubbard was created in 1968. In fact, most of the Pecan trees in Rockwall County were grafted by Chief Garrett’s great grandfather, Elijah Terry.

In addition to being a part of Heath’s farming history, the family’s contributions included those of his step-grandmother, Aileen Terry, who served as the Heath City Secretary from 1959 until 1990. Chief Garrett’s beloved grandfather, Charles (Raymond “Cotton”) Terry Sr., was a Rockwall County Commissioner for nearly 30 years.

Coming from a long line of community servants, it was no surprise when Chief Garrett began his own career in public safety in 1976 as an ambulance attendant while he was still a Rockwall High School student. He joined the Rockwall Volunteer Fire Department in 1978 and continued to work as an EMT for American Air/Land Ambulance and as a dispatcher for the Rockwall Police Department.

“The life and service of Terry Garrett in Rockwall County is the epitome of what we desire in our first responders. He knows our community and loves it,” said Justin Holland, State Representative, Texas House District 33 and Former Heath City Councilmember. “He has proven his dedication to the health, safety and welfare of our residents for decades. He has always been a valuable asset as a firefighter, EMT, police officer and chief.”

And through it all, Garrett has also been an exemplary family man with three children and five grandchildren. In one sentence, his wife, Shelley, describes Chief Garrett as “homegrown and the perfect combination of personality, professionalism and patriotism.”  

“For the 31 years I have known Terry as his pastor, friend, and police and fire chaplain, I have  found him to always be a quietly faithful, man of character and integrity who could always be counted upon,” added Steve Swofford, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Rockwall.

So on behalf of the City of Heath and Rockwall County community, we say good bye, but not farewell, to our fearless chief. 

“I truly wish Terry all the very best that his next steps have to offer,” said Adams.

See more photos and video from the Drive-By Farewell Salute at www.heathtx.com and on the City of Heath’s Facebook page.

Submitted press release. 

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