For Jackson officer, family comes before career

Monday, August 9, 2010
Sgt. Jim Barker is an officer with the Jackson Police Department. (Fred Lynch)

In his 10th year with the Jackson Police Department, Sgt. Jim Barker, a native of Marble Hill, Mo., said his greatest accomplishments are not even career related. Barker said being a husband and a father of 12 is what he's most proud of.

His career as a police officer dates to 1974, when he joined the U.S. Air Force. He served as a security policeman until his retirement 18 years later. After serving as an animal control officer at the Cape Girardeau Police Department for two and a half years and a brief stint as a construction worker, Barker, now 53, joined the Jackson squad in 2000.

Question: What brought you to the Jackson department?

Answer: When I retired from the military I wanted to come back to the area. I have family around here. I always was interested in police work, and I had a guaranteed job as security police in the military when I went in. I kind of liked it, but it was a little bit different from civilian law enforcement.

Q: When did you become ranked as sergeant?

A: January. I actually did the nuisance abatement job before I became sergeant here. I'm also the firearms instructor and the Taser instructor, and I'm also part of the special response team as a sniper.

Q: Was it your experience as an officer with the Air Force that landed you the spot as firearms instructor?

A: It did. I had a lot of firearms experience, and when there was an opening the chief asked me if I would like to be the firearms instructor. ... I've been to the FBI sniper course at the Missouri State Highway Patrol academy's firearms instructor course and a patrol rifle instructor course given by the University of Missouri--Columbia.

We have to have 48 hours of continuing training every three years and part of that is the firearms training. When I give classes I get credit because it's basically a teaching job. As far as the skills part, I go shooting on my own a lot. We have to come up with different firearms training programs to do.

Q: How have your duties changed since you became sergeant?

A: There's a little bit more paper work. Of course I'm responsible for the other people on the squad, making sure they're doing their job by looking over their reports. There's just more responsibilities, which is not really new because I was a sergeant in the military.

Q: Tell me something you enjoy about your career.

A: Being a sergeant; it is nice. It's recognition and everything, but it is more responsibility. A lot of the people working here are younger, so it's more of you're trying to take care of them, make sure they're safe and everything, because this job can be dangerous a little bit. ... We do try to take care of each other.

Q: What are some accomplishments you're most proud of?

A: It's really not anything work related. ... We have 12 children. My wife and I are on our second marriages, and she had some kids and I had some kids and we adopted some kids. ... The adoption, I think that was the best thing we did. And being in the military and retiring from that, that was a pretty good accomplishment because when I was growing up ... I wasn't a trouble maker or anything but I wasn't really structured and that helped out a lot.

This is a great career, I like doing police work, but kids and family are more important than that.

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

A: I sing in a bluegrass band, and we sing mostly gospel. We have a group that mainly goes to all the churches together and we sing. We sang up at Homecomers. I've been with [Cabin Fever] since about December. We have a lot of fun.

ehevern@semissourian.com

388-3635

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