By Ann Smajstrla
VAN ALSTYNE, Texas — The squad cars of the Van Alstyne Police Department are emblazoned with the words, "community first." To Chief of Police Tim Barnes, the phrase is more than just words — it is a motto that Barnes strives to uphold each day, for himself and the department as a whole.
"We're very community service oriented here. ... I believe that's important. Basically, we wouldn't exist if it weren't for the community," Barnes said.
Barnes is originally from Mesquite and knew as a small child that he wanted to be a police officer. After graduating from the Eastfield College Police Academy in Dallas, Barnes was hired as a patrol officer at the Van Alstyne PD. He and his wife moved to Van Alstyne in 1992 and have remained there since.
"I've had opportunities to leave and to go to other agencies, but I kind of feel like this is my calling," Barnes said, before reiterating that the small-town community of Van Alstyne is part of what has kept him there.
For several years Barnes worked as a patrol officer. During that time he was a K-9 handler for about two-and-a-half years. Barnes was eventually promoted to lieutenant, and in July of 2011 became the interim Chief of Police. On January 8, 2012, he was officially sworn in as the chief.
"My role as a police chief is ultimately the final say, many times, in decision making for the safety of the community," he said. The position also entails overseeing the department's budget and all of the staff: patrol, criminal investigations and communication.
One of Barnes's goals for the department is to become a "Best Practice Program" agency through the Texas Police Chiefs Association; meaning that the department's policies and procedures would have to meet and maintain high standards. At the beginning of the year, the department began the process for meeting the criteria.
Barnes said he considers the many opportunities for training to be one of his favorite parts of the job. So far, he has completed more than 2,300 hours of training at both the federal and state level. Notably, the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute at Sam Houston State University.
Barnes also encourages the PD's officers to attend as much training as possible. He said he wants to train officers who will be able to go to another department and serve in any capacity.
While he has several goals for the department as a whole, Barnes also has personal goals. His current focus is to finish obtaining a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Columbia Southern University. After that, he intends to obtain a master's degree.
When he's not running the PD Barnes enjoys spending time with his family, whether it be by going on camping trips or cheering for his three children at their sporting events. He also raises cattle as a hobby.
Barnes plans on retiring from the Van Alstyne PD, though he is not exactly sure when. He is thoroughly enjoying his job — and indeed, life in general — at the present time.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
"I tell people I'm living the dream every day," Barnes said, smiling.
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