After his swearing-in Monday morning, Lexington's new police chief, Mark Barnard, said that filling key department vacancies and focusing on crime victims would be among his first priorities.
Barnard was named to the post last month after Mayor Jim Gray promoted former chief Ronnie Bastin to public safety commissioner.
Barnard, 50, who was assistant chief for investigations before being promoted to chief, said it was "truly overwhelming and humbling" to take over responsibility for the entire department of more than 700 employees.
The new chief said he already has been busy in meetings to discuss key department posts that must be filled as a result of normal attrition. A new assistant chief, three commanders, five lieutenants and five sergeants will be named in coming weeks, Barnard said.
City and police officials turned out to see Barnard take the oath of office Monday, along with members of Lexington's legal community, including Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson and Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts.
Barnard, who grew up in Mount Sterling, is a 28-year veteran of the Lexington police force. He said he wanted the Lexington department to increase its focus on helping crime victims while continuing to fulfill its charge to arrest those who commit crimes. It's often easy for police to forget the needs of crime victims in their determination to bring criminals to justice, he said.
Barnard said expanding the Lexington department's office of victim advocacy would be one of his initial goals.
Other goals will include continued emphasis on recruitment and maintaining the department's traditional high standards as public servants, he said.
Barnard said police officers everywhere face danger on an almost daily basis, as in France, where authorities have been on terrorism alert since last week. He said Lexington was no different, and he mentioned that local officers arrested a man with a sawed-off shotgun over the weekend.
"I applaud the officers who work every day," Barnard said. "They don't get in front of the cameras. But they are out there, doing their jobs."