Second in Command
Brunswick County native Brian Chism is now the chief deputy of Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.
Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office has a new chief deputy.
The recently promoted Chief Deputy Brian Chism admits he’s “definitely not one of those people who said, I’ve always known I wanted to be in law enforcement.” In fact, he was really unsure what he wanted to do after graduating from South Brunswick High School.
After he graduated, Chism spent seven years working for John’s Plumbing Company in Southport. But his life changed when he visited his cousin, Andrew Arredondo, a police officer in the Washington, D.C., area.
“I went on ride-alongs with him,” Chism says. “From the first ride, I realized that’s what I wanted to do. I came back home, and my best friend’s older brother was working at the Brunswick County Sheriff ’s Office. I asked him what I needed to do to be in law enforcement. Everything just fell into place.”
During the span of Chism’s 18-year-career with the Brunswick County Sheriff ’s Office, he’s served in numerous leadership roles.
In May of 2005, after only seven months with the agency, Chism expressed a desire to work with canines. This quickly became a passion for him.
“I asked if I could go to training on my own time,” he says. “So, for seven months, I was getting the equipment I needed and setting up obstacle courses. I was even a bite dummy. Several other people applied for the canine unit, they all had experience, but I feel that the initiative I took, training on my own time, helped push me to the head of the line.”
In 2008 Sheriff John W. Ingram formed a new unit, the Special Operations unit. Chism was fortunate enough to be assigned to the unit, along with his canine partner, in an effort to combat the drug issues in the county. This began his journey in leadership, which pushed him to learn more about the training aspect of working with canines.
Chism became a certified trainer, training his last dog, Ajk from start to finish, all on his own.
After more than 10 years as a K9 handler, in 2014, Chism gave up his canine as a lieutenant and accepted a promotion to First Sergeant, which brought him back to where he started — the Patrol Division. Chism was able to continue as a canine handler and trainer along with his added duties of overseeing a patrol shift. After working three patrol canines and training many others, he was promoted to lieutenant of the patrol division.
While still overseeing the training of canines, as difficult as it was, he knew his time as a handler was coming to an end and that he had to find his replacement. In 2016 he was promoted to captain of Uniform Services. This allowed him to enhance his knowledge of other divisions. “Working with the dogs was great fun, but I really do enjoy passing on that knowledge to other people. You always should be looking to train your replacement. That’s a sign of a good leader,” Chism says.
In October of 2018 Chism attended the 274th session of the FBI National Academy and graduated in December 2018.
“It’s a very prestigious program,” Chism says. “I was at the FBI Headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, for two-and-a-half months. I lived there on campus, going to classes every day. The classes I took were all about leadership.”
In January of 2020 Sheriff Ingram promoted Chism to major, and he was later assigned to Investigations and the Vice Narcotics Divisions.
Once again, proving that Chism is an asset to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Ingram promoted him to chief deputy in August of 2022. The position of chief deputy had been held by Charlie Miller, who retired as a deputy in June and now serves as a representative in the N.C. House of Representative.
Chism counts being selected as the new chief deputy as the accomplishment he’s most proud of.
“It’s hard not to be,” he says. “I’ve only been here for 18 years. A lot of people, myself included, would say that’s unusual for someone my age. But I think what I brought to the table — my work ethic, my production and my leadership — is why they sought to move me up so quickly.”
Sheriff Ingram agrees.
“The chief deputy position is a vital part of the Sheriff’s Office,” Sheriff Ingram says. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of that role for me as sheriff. Chief Deputy Charlie Miller served as chief deputy since I became sheriff. It was very much a partnership, and I relied on him heavily for many things. When it came time to select a new Chief Deputy following his well-deserved retirement, I knew what characteristics I was looking for. Chief Deputy Chism comes into the position with a great deal of experience and knowledge. I have watched him grow and excel in various leadership positions throughout his career. He has served the citizens of Brunswick County for 18 years with dedication and professionalism. He is a man of integrity and strong moral character. Chief Deputy Chism grew up in Brunswick County and has a vested interest in protecting and serving its citizens. I have every confidence he will do an excellent job as chief deputy and I am excited to watch him continue to grow as a leader.”
With his new role comes bigger responsibilities. As chief deputy, Chism fills in for the sheriff when he’s not in. His direct reports include the Human Resources Administrator, Captain of Internal Affairs, Comptroller, Lieutenant of Equipment and Governor’s Highway Safety Program and Captain of Selective Enforcement units.
Since Chism’s promotion, one thing hasn’t changed when it comes to his favorite part about being in law enforcement.
“It’s helping people. Service has been in my blood,” he says. “And we have the support of our citizens. Sheriff Ingram has done an amazing job laying the groundwork and continues to do so. My heart is here in this county and with the citizens. I plan on starting and finishing my career with this agency.”
When Chism isn’t working, he can be found working out and spending time with his wife, Serena. They’ve been together for 20 years and married for 17.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without her love and support,” Chism says. They also just adopted a pit bull/feist mix from Animal Protective Services. “We named her Amara, which means survivor.”
Photography by Bill Ritenour
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