Election 2018: Watson running for sheriff in primary

A retired Indiana State Police trooper is running to become the first female sheriff in the history of Bartholomew County.

Tamara Watson will run as a Republican in the spring primary election against incumbent Matt Myers and Rob Kittle, a retired law enforcement administrator and former member of the Bartholomew County and Columbus City councils.

Watson, 47, said she knows it will be an uphill battle to defeat two well-known figures in the primary.

The candidate said she hopes to set an example for other women seeking a traditionally male position, she said.

“I want them to know they can do anything they want,” Watson said. “And do it against the odds.”

After graduating from Columbus East High School in 1988, Watson was hired as an part-time emergency dispatcher by former Sheriff Rick Hill. Once she earned her associate degree in 1990, she worked full time at the sheriff’s department for both Hill and his successor, David Mann.

Once she completed training at the Indiana Police Academy in 1998, Watson began her career as a state trooper working out of the now-closed Seymour post, and later within the Versailles district.

After a short time on patrol work, Watson moved into undercover work at casino boats, and later with various prescription-drug investigations. As part of her job, she worked regularly with federal law agents, including the Drug Enforcement Agency, she said.

Toward the end of her state police career, Watson went from working undercover to speaking before groups.

“I traveled the state educating hundreds of medical professionals, students and parents about the dangers of prescription drug addiction and how this directly relates to the heroin problem,” Watson said.

In this capacity, she served as a lobbyist for the Indiana State Police during the 2013 legislative session, as well as on the Indiana Attorney General’s “Bitter Pill” Task Force.

In late 2016, Watson took early retirement to work with her son, Aaron Watson, who owns a self-defense business specializing in firearms training in Columbus.

“If elected, I will partner with our community leaders to implement innovative, cost-effective policing solutions to make our community safer,” she said.

Age: 47

Residence: Columbus

Occupation: Lead instructor and public outreach coordinator for Watson Chambers Defense Institute.

Education: Columbus East High School, 1988. Associate degree in criminal justice from Vincennes University, 1990. Graduate of the Indiana State Police Academy, 1998.

Experience: Law enforcement officer for the Indiana State Police,  1998-2016. Lobbyist for the Indiana State Police, 2013. Served on the Indiana Attorney General’s “Bitter Pill” Task Force.

Family: Two adult sons, Alec and Aaron Watson.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.