Fayette County

Veteran officer Mark Barnard named new Lexington police chief

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray pinned the police chief's badge on Mark Barnard on Monday at a news conference at the city government center in downtown Lexington. His official start of duty is Jan. 12.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray pinned the police chief's badge on Mark Barnard on Monday at a news conference at the city government center in downtown Lexington. His official start of duty is Jan. 12. Herald-Leader

A 28-year Lexington police veteran will be the city's next chief.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray named Mark Barnard the city's new police chief on Monday morning. Barnard had most recently been an assistant chief over the Bureau of Investigation.

"This is an important day for all of us," Gray said. "Public safety is our top priority in city hall. It is our top priority for our citizens and for me."

During a morning news conference at the government center, Gray pinned Barnard's badge on him, and Barnard's wife and daughters pinned his rank insignia.

Barnard, 50, said he was honored and humbled to be chosen as police chief.

"I am blessed with a strong faith and an amazing family," he said. "My wife, Gaye, and daughters Caroline and Elizabeth have always stood by me even though my work has caused me to be absent from countless family events."

Barnard's wife, Gaye, said that despite the sacrifices their family has had to make, it has all been worth it. "This is the culmination of all that time away."

"We're extremely proud of him more than anything," she said.

Barnard said he would work hard to live up to the responsibility of leading Lexington's officers.

"I have been very fortunate over the years to work alongside a number of people in this organization who have profoundly influenced me both professionally and personally," he said.

Barnard thanked all of those people for their encouragement and support.

"I've spent over half my life in a job that I've always dreamed of doing, a job based on service to others. I am and always will be proud to be a member of the Lexington Police Department."

Along with Barnard, assistant chief Lawrence Weathers had also applied for the job. Weathers heads the Bureau of Special Operations.

There were also two outside candidates for the job: Dwayne Depp of Frankfort and Terri Wilfong of Greenville, S.C.

According to a news release from the city, Barnard was the unanimous choice of the committee that led the search for a new chief. The search committee included representatives of the criminal justice community, local businesses, the Urban County Council, the faith community and community advocates. Glenn Brown, the city's Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, led the committee.

In a statement, Peggy Henson, 11th District Councilmember, chair of the Council's Public Safety Committee and a member of the search committee, said, "The committee had four good applicants, but Mark was a strong voice for the community."

Jason Rothermund, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Bluegrass Lodge, said he thinks Barnard is innovative, which is something the police department needs.

"New ideas are always good," Rothermund said.

He said he believes that Barnard also has a strong vision for what the police force can be. "I think that's a positive."

The new chief follows Ronnie Bastin into the chief's office. Gray announced Dec. 2 that he is promoting Bastin to public safety commissioner.

Bastin, who was appointed chief Jan. 7, 2008, is replacing former FBI agent Clay Mason as public safety commissioner. Mason is joining a consulting company.

Bastin is to retire as police chief in January. He will receive a pension from the department in addition to the commissioner's salary.

Barnard officially starts work as police chief on Jan. 12.

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