Courtland sergeant retires after nearly 28 years on force

Published 8:41 am Wednesday, June 2, 2010

COURTLAND—For the first time in nearly 28 years, there’s a new town sergeant patrolling Courtland’s streets.

Jeff Barnes, the man who held the job for nearly three decades, retired effective Friday, May 28.

“It really doesn’t seem like it’s been 28 years,” Barnes said Tuesday. “I figured it was about time to give somebody else a chance to work.”

The 66-year-old Conway, N.C., native has spent more than 40 years in law enforcement, including time with the Suffolk and Franklin police departments, as well as the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office.

“I love police work and I love people. That’s about as simple as I can make it,” Barnes said of his career choice.

While he has worked with several law enforcement agencies, by far, the biggest chunk of Barnes’ career was spent as Courtland’s town sergeant.

“Courtland’s a rural hometown kind of place, and you can get along with just about anybody,” he said.

Barnes said treating all people fairly—even those with criminal records—has been something that he’s stressed during his career.

“Treat people with respect until they do something to make you treat them differently,” he said. “But let them instigate that change.”

Aside from the occasional break-in, Barnes said intoxicated people cause some of the biggest problems in town.

Barnes is confident that his successor, Hunter Story, will do a great job for the town.

“He’s a good man. He’s got a good attitude with people,” Barnes said of Story. “I’d just hate to have to get in his face if I was the one on the wrong side of him.”

Barnes said he and his wife, Thelma, plan to stay busy with yard work and other things around the house.

Working with and helping people, Barnes said, was his favorite part of the town sergeant job.

“I’m not the best police officer in the world and I never tried to be. I don’t think I’m the worst either…but I tried to get along with people and help them out when they needed it,” he said.