Jim Hartman, security officer at Warren County Courthouse, has a resume that reads like the Yellow Pages.
Folks passing through the courthouse metal detectors might be surprised to learn the deputy ushering them through has served with the United Nations in Kosovo, as a Marine Corps sergeant in Japan, and as an Army corporal in Ethiopia. Hartman has served in the military or law enforcement for decades, and he is still doing what he does best: showing up and doing his job.
Hartman grew up in Rutherford County and South Nashville and moved around quite a bit. His father, a day laborer, traveled from job to job. Two weeks after turning 17, Hartman enlisted in the United States Army and reported for basic training at Fort Gordon, Ga., in January 1964.
After basic training and military police school, he shipped off to secondary school at Fort Lee, Va., to train as a weapons specialist. He then lit out for Ethiopia and was embedded with a civilian unit as part of the Ethiopia-United States Mapping Mission.
In Ethiopia, Hartman and his fellow soldiers lived in tents in rural areas in the southwest of the country. For every six weeks in the sticks, they would get one week of rest and recreation in Addis Ababa, where Hartman says he and his buddies would do things like go to the cinema and drink cold beverages.
Following three years in Ethiopia, Hartman decided to leave the military and enter civilian life. He spent half a decade as a security supervisor at Walmart, K-Mart, and Zayre stores before needing to scratch his military itch again.
This time, he entered the Marine Corps. Hartman says USMC basic training was more rugged back then: drill sergeants would shove recruits to where they needed to be, and “nonconformist” recruits would spend seven-hour days crawling around in a mud pit known as the “moat.”
After basic training, from which Hartman graduated as one of the four rifle experts in his unit, he served three years in Iwakuni, Japan, as a customs agent. His attention to detail there produced results: he turned over 46 drug arrests to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in his first six months and was awarded a Meritorious Mast for his efforts.
Following his time in the Marine Corps, Hartman set his sights on a position with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department. He pestered the sheriff so relentlessly, showing up at the department uninvited on several occasions, the sheriff finally asked him, “You’re pretty serious about going to work, aren’t you?” Hartman replied in the affirmative, stating, “I’m going to work for this sheriff’s department.”
Hartman would work five years at the department before serving as the Assistant Chief of Police in Alexandria, Tenn. After his stint there, he worked a dozen years as a security officer at Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma.
In 1994, when Jackie Matheny was elected sheriff of Warren County, Hartman joined his force as a patrol officer and a court officer in the courtroom of Judge Larry Ross. Hartman would serve with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department continuously until 2009, with the exception of one year. That year he took part in a United Nations mission to train Kosovan police officers in the wake of the war in Kosovo.
In 2009, Hartman gave retirement a try but found that it was not to his liking. He worked as a firearms manager for a couple years before serving six years as a judicial commissioner.
In August of 2017, Hartman began his current job as deputy sheriff assigned to courthouse security, ensuring the safety of the clerks, judges, attorneys, and all persons present in the courthouse. It is a job that he takes seriously but also one that he enjoys.
“Retirement just didn’t work for me,” he says. “I’m here because I want to be here.”