Why would Madison’s new Chief of Police of four months, Shon Barnes, spend most of his allotted speaking time presenting his journey from child to Chief?
By doing so, Barnes not only shared his vision for our Madison force, but also how this vision became to be.
Barnes wanted to serve in order to help others. This he learned from his father, an automobile mechanic who developed a successful small business without advertising but on trust: repair costs without overpricing, transparency of diagnosis, dependable delivery, and word of mouth.
His college history major and four years teaching it gave him a long-view perspective, backward and forward. He’s still learning about the legacy and power of history. In fact . . .
One of his most significant life events was a personal journey to Selma, Alabama with two officer friends. They came to Selma, read archival materials, crossed the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge of Bloody Sunday of March 7, 1965 history, and then walked 54 miles to Montgomery.
During his walk, he learned that people want to be seen and to participate; they want to be heard; they were accountable for the welfare of the three walkers; and the world is not as divided as it is often portrayed to be.
Barnes translated his life’s experiences into practice: trust, active listening, transparency, accountability, the use of technology to increase efficiency, avoidance of over-policing, and—as he learned as a Rotarian— “being nice for no reason”.
Barnes’ goal? Madison’s police force will be the national model for exceptional policing.
Our thanks to Police Chief Barnes for his presentation this week and to Ellsworth Brown for preparing this review article. If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/9FrhUD8GDOo.