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400 Faces: Cumming's first-ever female Deputy Chief of Police happens to love sushi
400 Life Aletha Barrett 1018
Cumming Police Deputy Chief Aletha Barrett - photo by Brian Paglia

This article appears in the October 2018 issue of 400 Life magazine.

By Peter Stoddard

For the Forsyth County News

In Hall County’s Murrayville, Georgia, 3-year-old Aletha Barrett knew she wanted to be a cop. That year a family law enforcement friend introduced her to the inside of a patrol car and let her play with the bells and whistles. Aletha was hooked, and the hook set deep.

While growing up, Aletha spent a lot of time hunting and fishing with her dad. She became comfortable with and proficient in firearms. She also became tough as a competitive softball player, a passion she attacked from age 5 to 35.

Upon graduation from North Hall High School, Aletha went straight to work for the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office. (How many 18-year-olds can make that claim?) During those years she earned a degree in criminal justice from North Georgia College, now University of North Georgia, and an associate degree in marketing.

For two years, Aletha left law enforcement for marketing work at an automotive specialty company. She soon recognized that to be a mistake and aspired to correct it.

Aletha returned to law enforcement, serving Dawson and Forsyth counties in a dizzying combination of roles: crime scene investigator, latent print examiner, shoe ware examiner, marijuana examiner, training officer, chief deputy coroner … and more. Aletha also serves as an instructor at the Georgia Police Training Center.

In August 2015, Aletha was named Cumming’s first ever female Deputy Chief of Police. It is little wonder she was prepared for the role.

Oh yes, Aletha married a fellow law enforcement officer and raised five children, now ranging in age from 18 to 25. She credits a loving and supportive extended family for helping to care for those kids during often unpredictable career obligations for both mom and dad.

Another of Aletha’s passions is service on the Executive Board of Forsyth County Family Haven. Family Haven provides shelter, support and a comprehensive array of essential services to parents and children who find themselves in perilous circumstances. Aletha and Family Haven are particularly busy with outreach every October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

With all this Aletha still finds time to pursue other hobbies. She is active in fundraising. She likes to garden, craft and paint. She and her husband serve as lay pastors at the Chestatee Worship Center Church in Dawsonville. More than anything else, Aletha savors time with her greatest gifts: her husband, five children and a new grandchild.

What is the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to get where you are?

People said I was too small, too smart and a girl. I did not listen. I knew this was my calling.

Favorite childhood memory?

Too many to mention. All of them outdoors: Hunting, fishing.

Favorite place you’ve been?

Estes Park, Colorado. The mountains, scenery and crisp air were so different than where I grew up. You can see so far in every direction.

Favorite book?

The Shack. It’s about crime, tragedy and redemption. I deal with all of these topics in my life and career, and that book really spoke to me.

Favorite movie?

Can’t name one off hand. I don’t often go to movies.

Favorite music?

Upbeat Christian. That is a broad category that covers a lot of music varieties. But those two words describe it pretty well.

Favorite food?

Sushi. Fortunately, there are now a lot of great sushi restaurants in Cumming and around Forsyth County. That sure was not the case when I was growing up.

Top bucket list item?

Skydiving. It is one adrenaline experience I have yet to try. I just haven’t made it happen yet.

Have you any advice for young women interested in a law enforcement career?

Do not listen to anyone who says you cannot do it. You can if you persevere. Never give up on your dream.