Larry Barker said what he’ll likely remember most from his 28 years as a Hillsboro police officer is interacting with kids and the people he worked with.
“I’d wait in back as the younger kids were leaving school and heading toward the buses and give them high-fives and stuff,” Barker said. “And at Christmastime just before they left for break I’d go out to the school and turn my cruiser lights on. They’d say, ‘What’s that for?’ and I’d say, ‘That’s my Christmas lights.’”
Barker, who officially retired Jan. 4 of this year, was honored during a reception held Sunday at the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District station in Hillsboro.
Originally from the Dayton area, Barker said his family eventually moved to the Bainbridge area and he attended his senior year and graduated from McClain High School in Greenfield in 1977.
He said it was a ride with another retired Hillsboro police officer, John Salyer, that set him on the course of becoming a police officer.
“John had me come up and ride with him one night and it got me interested in it,” Barker said. “I think it was the kind of hands-on things you can do with people.”
Barker spent his entire law enforcement career with the Hillsboro Police Department. He said he started by monitoring the city’s parking meters, did that for eight years, and has been a road officer since.
One night event that stands out in his mind, Barker said, is when he was the first person to arrive on the scene after the department received a report about possible drug activity. He said the suspect had drugs on him, was driving a stolen vehicle, and started to try to drive away, almost running over Barker’s foot. He said that’s when he pulled his gun and aimed it directly at the suspect.
“He put his hands up real quick,” Barker said. “That was the first time I ever had to had to pull my gun on somebody. It’s a scary decision.”
Married to Barb Barker, an employee at Bell Gardens Place in Hillsboro, for 38 years, Barker said he has one daughter, who is a nurse in Circleville, and lost his only other child, another daughter, when she was 23. He has two grandchildren.
Barker said he’s not sure how he will occupy his time now, but that he’ll probably take it easy and work on some things around his home.
He said it is the people he worked with that he will miss most.
Hillsboro Police Chief Darrin Goudy said he got to know Barker over the past year when they were both working first shift.
“He’s been part of this police department’s growth over several decades now. He was very active in the community during his time here,” Goudy said. “He was well-known, well-liked and well-respected. He treated everyone he encountered with the utmost respect.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.