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May 6, 2022Chattanooga, TN, United StatesOperational

HSI Chattanooga recognizes local, state law enforcement partners

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - During a grand opening ceremony May 5, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chattanooga officially opened their new office and recognized local and state law enforcement partners for their contributions to several high-profile investigations.

Hosted by HSI Resident Agent in Charge Arturo Napolitano, the ceremony included an awards presentation to officers with the Chattanooga Police Department (CPD) and Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) for their work on several large-scale child exploitation cases, including one that crossed multiple state lines and involved more than a dozen victims. In attendance were Chattanooga Police Department Chief Celeste Murphy; Austin Garrett, Chief Deputy Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office; the honorable Francis Trey Hamilton, III, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee; and Ms. Caryn Hebets, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Recognized for their investigative contributions that led to significant child exploitation sentencings and multiple victims rescued, were HCSO Sergeant Ed Merritt; HCSO Detective Danny Stone; CPD investigators Tyrone Williams and Kayla Balinger; HSI Special Agent Jimmy Reeves; and HSI computer forensic analyst Steven Burns.

In addition to the recognition ceremony, five CPD investigators were inducted as HSI task force officers, empowering them with additional law enforcement authorities. Presented with their HSI Task Force Officer credentials were investigators Tyrone Williams, Kayla Balinger, Christopher Wrath, Timothy McFarland, and Alex Olson. Task force officers work in partnership with HSI to amplify resources and investigative capabilities to combat child exploitation, narcotics smuggling, human smuggling and trafficking, counterfeiting, and fraud.

“Today is another step in the evolution that is HSI Nashville. This building, and this ceremony, is a commitment to Eastern Tennessee, the city of Chattanooga and the surrounding areas. We understand the value of partnerships and are dedicated to public safety,” said HSI Nashville Special Agent in Charge Jerry C. Templet Jr. “With our organizational culture, we are both willing and able to assist our law enforcement partners in innovative and novel ways. Our special agents and our task force officers are uniquely equipped and highly motivated – it is through that collaboration and collective dedication to the protection of our communities, that we will be successful.”

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 05/06/2022