I just recently retired from the Parkersburg Police Department, and it pains me to see the direction the department has been going. The department no longer has a commitment to the community as it once had. We used to have an officer in the middle schools to build relationships with the youth of the community and the program was eliminated. I used to hold a yearly "drug-free" picnic for the children that was eliminated for the reason of "lack of funds." Relationships with other law enforcement agencies and first responders have deteriorated. Where we used to collaborate and work together it has become a turf war. Officers are beginning to leave at an alarming pace and leaving for other departments.
The Parkersburg Police Department used to be the department of the few and proud and has become the training ground for other law enforcement agencies. Police officers are suing the city of Parkersburg for wrongs that have been committed. This is in my opinion, caused by a lack of leadership from the top. Moral on the department is at the absolute lowest I had seen in my 20 years on the police department. The low moral comes from the working conditions. I loved my job; I just hated going into the hostilities. Fair and equitable treatment went out the door.
There are a lot of good men on the police department that want to make a difference in the community but feel as if their hands are tied by the administration. I promised my fellow officers when I retired that I would try to let as many citizens as I could know how the majority of the officers felt. Before they can say that I was part of the leadership, I just want to apologize to the men for not staying and to continue fighting for them.
I hope the citizens of Parkersburg send a sound message on election day that they want to take the city back. I spent the last 20 years serving the great citizens of Parkersburg and it has been an honor. I just want to see the guys and gals on the department have the opportunity to be treated fairly so they can serve the citizens proudly.
Delmas G. Barker II