The Washington Township Police department is sending a new recruit through the academy this year, and it’s someone who already knows the ropes.
Of approximately 100 applicants, according to Mayor Ken Short, the department selected Kevin Barnes, a life-long Washington Township resident and 2009 West Morris Central graduate.
His roots in the township go beyond just living here, though, and his surname is likely familiar.
Barnes is the son of police department Sgt. Earl Barnes, who has been part of the force for more than two decades. The senior officer is eligible for retirement in July 2014, just a few weeks after his son is scheduled to complete his training academy.
Police chief Michael Bailey introduced Barnes to the Washington Township Committee at its reorganization meeting Saturday, Jan. 4.
“He comes from good family, good stock,” Bailey said of the new recruit. “I’ve known him his entire life, and hopefully he’ll spend the next 30 years serving this department and town.”
Barnes, with a degree in criminal justice from Montclair State University, said his father was an influence when the time came to pursue his occupation, but the decision was his own.
“Growing up in Long Valley and seeing what our officers do, I really just wanted to give back to the community, and I thought this was the best way,” Barnes said.
Washington Township approved the hiring of two new recruits for the 2014 academy, but only Barnes has been selected and accepted the entry into the academy.
Another potential recruit decided to take a different opportunity.
That will leave the department at a lower staffing level than it currently has, as Lt. Art Adams and Officer Susan Gilligan both retired effective Nov. 1, 2013. Barnes was recruited to fill one of those positions.
In addition, Bailey has been eligible for retirement since last summer, and Sgt. Barnes will be eligible before the next academy begins.
At the reorganization meeting Short said one of his 2014 goals for the committee was to keep police staffing with at least 28 members.
Once Barnes has graduated the academy, he will be accompanied by another officer on the road for approximately three months before going on his own, per department procedure.