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Tualatin's retiring police chief honored at special breakfast

Tualatin Community Police Foundation holds fundraiser.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tualatin Police Chief Kent Barker speaks at the Tualatin Community Police Foundation's first annual 'Breakfast with the Chief' on Tuesday morning.The Tualatin Community Police Foundation held its first of what it anticipates will be annual “Breakfast with the Chief” fundraisers Tuesday morning — but it will be its last in which the titular chief is Kent Barker of the Tualatin Police Department.

The event Tuesday at the Tualatin Country Club, which was well attended, was both an appreciation of and fundraiser for the Tualatin Police Department and a salute to Barker, who is retiring this summer after more than 12 years as Tualatin's chief of police.

“We will greatly miss you, Chief,” said Chad Hastings, the foundation's vice president. “You've been an inspiration, and I think you can see by the turnout here that they're here to support you.”

In fact, according to Tualatin City Councilor Joelle Davis, Barker was the inspiration behind the foundation itself.

Both Barker and Davis, who serves as president of the foundation's board of directors, recounted meeting one-on-one not long after the unrest in the St. Louis suburbs over the shooting of an unarmed black man by a police officer in 2014.

“All of us had spent that summer watching TV and watching Ferguson, Missouri, burn, and it was a terrifying experience for me watching that, because I went to look up some information about the city and discovered that their population size is the same as ours, and the square footage of their city is the same as ours,” Davis said (Ferguson is actually home to a little less than 6,000 people fewer than Tualatin, and it is about two square miles smaller, but the sizes are nonetheless similar). “And I questioned over and over again, 'Where is their leadership? What is happening? Where is everybody?' And I never wanted to see that happen in our city.”

Barker said Davis asked him what he wanted to do before he left the department, not knowing at the time the chief was in fact planning to retire in mid-2016. He said he would like the police in Tualatin to have a nonprofit foundation to support them.

“I want you guys to understand that the city of Tualatin's a great city, and it's a great city financially … and they treat the police department good,” Barker explained Tuesday. “We are treated good. We have good equipment, we pay good salaries. But there's things that I, personally, would like to do more of. And so it's not things that we have to do, it's things that we'd like to do, because it just makes us a better police department in the community.”

He continued, “Joelle asked me, she said, 'Well, how can I help?' And I told her that somebody needed to start a foundation for me.”

Within months, the Tualatin Community Police Foundation was formed, with Davis as its president and Barker on the board as an ex officio member, in his capacity as police chief.

Barker and Davis ran down lists of what the foundation has done to support Tualatin Police since it started up last spring.

CenterCal Properties — which employs Hastings as the general manager for its Tualatin-area shopping centers: Bridgeport Village, Nyberg Rivers and Nyberg Woods — donated a Segway to the police department through the foundation, followed by a second donation of a Segway by a private citizen. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were donated courtesy of Firehouse Subs and an anonymous donor. Police also received free legal services from a foundation board member, Barker said.

But the department's wishlist goes on, Barker said. Among the items he would like to see Tualatin Police have in the future: a mass casualty trauma kit, hotel vouchers to give victims in a domestic disturbance a night away from their home situation, and an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) like those used by the Sherwood Police Department.

“It's one of those things we would definitely like to have, because with the new trails and the beautiful parks we have in Tualatin, what a better tool for us to use than something like a side-by-side?” Barker said of the ATV.

The grandest wish the outgoing chief has is for a new police facility.

“Our big dream was to someday have a training facility with an indoor firing range and classroom adjacent to the police department that our officers could use right there at the department and offer, like, gun safety classes for the general public,” Barker said.

Tuesday's breakfast brought the police a little closer to some of the goals Barker mentioned. Several attendees committed to donate as much as $1,000 to the foundation, with Barker himself pledging $500.

The breakfast also featured a keynote address from Portland Trail Blazers announcer and Tualatin resident Mike Barrett, who talked about the Blazers' surprise run to the second round of the National Basketball Association playoffs, as well as about the value of having strong and considerate leadership.

“I have heard so many kind words about you over the years, and having a chance to ride along with many of the officers over the years and having a relationship with the department, I hear only positive things,” Barrett told Barker at the end of his remarks, wishing him well in retirement.

Barker is slated to retire next month. The city of Tualatin has already begun the process of searching for his successor.

By Mark Miller
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