WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A northeastern Pennsylvania man known for his lengthy law enforcement and public service record is taking his expertise to the state level.
He has just been appointed to a commission which helps train and educate Pennsylvania police officers.
“I was just deeply honored by the nomination and the confirmation by the entire Senate,” Municipal Police Officers’ Education & Training Commission Appointee Bill Barrett said.
That confirmation on Tuesday makes 70-year-old Barrett the latest member appointed to Pennsylvania’s Municipal Police Officers’ Education & Training Commission.
“Very happy to have that happen in my 28 years of police experience and in all of my public safety training,” Barrett said.
For the past 18 years, Barrett has served as Public Safety Training Institute/Campus Security & Safety Director at Luzerne County Community College. Before that, he served nearly three decades with the Wilkes-Barre Police Department including several years as its chief. Now his job on the 20-member commission will be to help shape statewide police practices – a hot topic amid nationwide cries for racial justice.
“There’s always been bias and diversity training involved in police training but I can envision that being ramped up quite a bit,” Barrett said.
Barrett explains that more needs to be done to build bridges of trust between police and citizens of all races and backgrounds.
“I think we need to become more involved in community policing, getting out in the community more than we do now,” Barrett said.
What he says he doesn’t want to see happen is police departments thinned out or disappear.
“I think the last thing we want to do right now is defund police departments or dismantle police departments without a plan in place. After all, who are we going to call when there is an issue?” Barrett said.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown believes Barrett is the right choice at the right time to serve on the influential commission.
“He doesn’t shoot from the hip. He anticipates what both sides could be before he makes a decision,” Brown said.
As his interview with Eyewitness News ended, Barrett left us with these words about any potential changes to law-enforcement during these racially charged times: ‘We’ve only got one shot at this. We’ve got to get it right’.
Barrett will fill out the rest of a three and a half year term on the Municipal Police Officers’ Education & Training Commission. He’ll take part in his first virtual meeting of the commission next week.