ITHACA, N.Y. — Newly retired Ithaca Police Chief John Barber was honored as the Kiwanis Officer of the Month Monday afternoon for his decades of service to Ithaca and the surrounding community.
After nearly 30 years in law enforcement, Barber announced his plans for retirement in December. At least 100 police officers and other first responders attended Barber’s last official walk-out on March 9, where he and newly appointed Acting Chief Pete Tyler formally conducted the change of command.
“The obvious choice for Kiwanis Officer of the Month is John Barber and that is long overdue,” Tyler said during the luncheon for Barber Monday. “It’s one those things where we know that if you had been chief at the time when we tried to give you an award that you never would have accepted it because of who you are and what your character is and how humble you are.”
Tyler said he and Barber were squad partners since almost the beginning of their career together, sharing the same days off and often working together. They raised through the ranks at the IPD in a similar time frame.
“You could see it early on in your career, John, when you would be out doing your calls — the energy that you had, your insistence on excellence. Even as a police officer, you could tell that you were going places,” Tyler said.
Common Council member George McGonigal said during the luncheon that Barber has done a great job bridging the gap between the community and police officers, as well as ensuring that IPD officers have ample opportunity for training.
He cited fun community activities, such as the annual Southside Community Barbecue and Coffee with the Chief, events where the community is invited to have positive one-on-one experiences with police officers. But he also praised the former chief for largely significant and meatier accomplishments, like his charge to create a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Team to better serve people with addiction problems.
“So many lives have been saved by the Ithaca Police Department, who’ve been trained for Narcan. Although they may not think so, IPD is one of the best friends a heroin addict has,” he said. “I think Chief Barber has done some pretty imaginative work to bring our community closer together.”
During closing remarks, Barber said, “As the leader of an organization, you don’t expect recognition. You always want to filter that recognition down to the people doing the work for you.”
He said it’s the officers working hard day-to-day that make the organization successful and who will continue driving the mission of IPD forward.