Pete Barnett takes on the sheriff’s department’s highest honor - swears in as Jefferson County sheriff

Pete Barnett sworn in as Jefferson County sheriff
Published: Jan. 1, 2023 at 7:52 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - “Morale and Team work.” Two themes Jefferson County’s newest Sheriff, Pete Barnett, plans to bring to his new position.

It’s been a decade since he retired from serving as Deputy Sheriff for 26 years in the county, now he is taking on the department’s highest honor.

“I’ve heard people in this profession say we’re just drifting to stay afloat, as your 59th sheriff, I am now at the helm, and this ship will be ridden by its crew safe, well cared for, and working together,” said Barnett.

Getting drugs off the street, recruitment, and cross training between the correctional division and law enforcement is at the top of his to do list.

Barnett says with this, he hopes to boost morale across all branches in the sheriff’s department.

His first move is retiring the blue correctional patch.

“Like changing out the color of the patch, it might not be anything to the average citizen, but to the individual wearing it, it means a lot,” said Barnett.

Barnett says in the beginning of his term, recruitment efforts will start with Fort Drum retired veterans.

He also wants to start attacking the drug issue by bringing the D.A.R.E program back to schools.

“We have to try to help people not have that desire to take these drugs, I know life is tough, there’s no playbook, you know? It’s not easy for any of us,” said Barnett.

Sworn in alongside Barnett, Undersheriff Kristopher Spencer says he and Barnett’s experience make them a great team.

“It’s going to be a wait and see approach initially, but I bring 26 years of corrections background, Sheriff Barnett worked briefly in the old jail, he has his law enforcement, we are a perfect complimentary team,” said Spencer.

It’s a new team of leaders continuing to serve those in our community.

“One patch, one heart. We work together,” said Barnett.

County officials say they look forward to working with the new leadership at the sheriff’s department.