Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sgt. Barco Retires But Leaves a Library and Legacy Behind
November 27, 2017 by Gwen Cooper | No Comments

“He’s a big guy with a bigger heart.” – Trustee Ken Radtke

After 26 years of serving and protecting the community, Chester Township Police Sgt. John Barco is turning in his badge and gun, but his name and legacy will live on at the police station with the installation of the Little Library named in his honor.

“He’s a big guy with a bigger heart,” township Trustee Ken Radtke said about Barco.

A group of students from Miss Pat’s Day Care Center helped to open the Dr. Seuss- themed Little Library as patrolman Zak Mullins read the classic “Green Eggs and Ham.” Several of the students were well versed in the story, often prompting him on upcoming verses.

Afterward, the students were treated to a cookie and a tour of the police station.

Police Chief Mark Purchase said Barco had an uncanny connection to the children of the township and will be missed.

“I wanted to get to know them and teach them to come to us without being afraid when they needed help,” Barco said. “We did safety drills in schools, and when I worked days, I would stop by the schools and greet them as they got on or off the bus at the school. I got to know them pretty well and it helped with community policing efforts.”

In 2015, the Geauga County Bar Association named Barco as its Law Enforcement Officer of the Year after he intervened in a young man’s suicide attempt and talked to him for hours, convincing him to seek help rather than commit suicide.

Off the clock, Barco is a man of few words. He described his worst day on the job as being when he had to notify a family of a tragic death.

From dealing with buffalos on the loose and causing traffic accidents to responding to calls for help by residents, Barco has watched the community grow over the years. He cited his best days as interacting with the public and helping to see that children with special needs get access to public buildings and programs.

Attending the installation were members of Barco’s family, many of whom followed him into careers in law enforcement. Also present were Radtke and Sarah Cahill of the Cleveland FBI office, which sponsored the installation of the library.

Cahill said it was the FBI’s first Little Library in Geauga County.

Barco said he would miss working with the other Chester police officers. He plans to tackle his list of chores at home. He also plans to continue working in law enforcement in another capacity.

Purchase said the Little Library would house many of the children’s books the police department already had plus add new ones.

“The books help to occupy the little ones while their parents wait to receive copies of reports or report incidents,” Purchase explained.

According to Cahill, the idea behind the Little Library is offer children the opportunity to take a book they want and leave a book that they are finished reading so someone else can enjoy it.


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