This is the first in a three part series focusing on Lake Stevens Police Officer Jim Barnes who is the resource officer at Cavelero Mid High School in the Lake Stevens School District.
The Lake Stevens Journal is privileged to bring this article to the community and would like to thank LSSD Community Relations Director Arlene Hulten for sharing this story with us.
Officer Jim Barnes - A little history
Officer Barnes was born in St. Louis Park, Minn., which is just outside of Minneapolis. He moved to Wash. in 1985 and has been living in Lake Stevens since 1993.
Barnes has five kids with three still at home attending Lake Stevens schools. He has a brand new granddaughter, (from oldest daughter Jessica and Ryan who live in Utah).
Barnes worked for Snohomish County for just over 20 years, three years at the Snohomish County Jail and 17 years at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
Barnes has worked at the L.S. Police Dept. for just over four years and is currently a school resource officer, marine patrol officer, and an explorer advisor.
Schooling: AAS in Law Enforcement (Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn.) a BA in Social & Criminal Justice (Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa) and is currently working on his Masters in Public Administration (Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa).
“My passion in law enforcement has always been working with the young people in our community,” Barnes said.
“The thing I enjoy most at Cavelero MHS is the relationships I am building with the students. There truly are some amazing young men and women in our community.”
While being a police officer isn’t new to Officer Jim Barnes, reporting to a school with 1,300 eighth and ninth grade students is. Early on, before Cavelero was even built, Officer Barnes let his chief, Randy Celori, know that if a School Resource Officer (SRO) position ever became available, he would be interested.
“At first I thought it was a crazy idea to put all eighth and ninth grade students together in one school, but now that I am here, I can see it’s successful – I love working with kids,” Officer Barnes shared.
His assignment at Cavelero Mid High began with the start of the 2010 school year. He works the full school day, every school day.
From the very start, he teamed with the school’s principal, associate principals and athletic director, to implement a plan to raise student expectations for academic achievement and behavior.
The guiding focus for all at Cavelero is a collaborative Commitment to Graduation, coupled with a commitment to having the largest graduating classes in the school’s history for the classes of 2014 and 2015.
“In order for us to achieve these goals, to be successful, we all have to support each other every day – that includes students to students as well,” stated Principal Mike Snow.
Officer Barnes explained, “As a team we strive to be visible, consistent, support teachers, and be firm yet respectful when it comes to student discipline. Our goal is to hold students accountable for their behavior, we expect all students to abide by expectations of mutual respect and to follow school rules.”
Supporting students comes easy to Officer Barnes. Aside from having five children of his own and a brand-new grandchild, he has lots of experience teaching in classrooms across the county.
Prior to coming to Lake Stevens, he worked for Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and taught DARE classes to elementary and mid level students and locally taught Risk Watch, a collaborative safety class with the fire department.
Teaching is part of his job at Cavelero as well. For students taking Washington State History, Officer Barnes teaches a segment on Law Enforcement History.
The class begins in England in 1066 and quickly moves through a timeline jumping to Scotland, Canada, Boston and landing in Lake Stevens in 1960 when the city became incorporated.
He covers components of law enforcement and skills and attributes necessary to do the job.
He also teaches a component on safety in Health for eighth grade students. There he covers a variety of topics including bullying, cyber bullying, and the trouble kids can get into when texting and sending inappropriate pictures.
“Kids don’t understand the magnitude of consequences and long-term effects of cyber bullying or sexting,” Officer Barnes explained. “I show a video of an ABC news segment on the topic that really hits home with the students – it’s critical they understand the impact of the choices they make.”
For Officer Barnes, a typical day finds him in the office at 6:30 a.m. greeting students as they exit the bus at 6:50 a.m., out chatting with students around the campus till the bell rings, and walking the halls to make sure students are where they are suppose to be.
In between classes he takes the opportunity to meet with counselors or teachers to address questions or concerns, and throughout the day checks in with administrators.
For an hour and a half in the middle of the day he is milling with students during all three lunch periods. At 1:55 he wraps up the day where he began, saying goodbye to students as they load the buses to go home.
Building relationships and being pro-active in addressing behaviors and possible issues is what’s most important to Officer Barnes.
After six months on the job he finds that students are opening up to him and seeking him out, whether to ask questions about being a police officer or to just chat.
He reflected, “At the beginning kids didn’t know what to expect from me, and some just thought they didn’t like cops – but now the attitude has changed and nearly every student is comfortable with me. Attitudes change as relationships are developed, and that’s my goal.”
Principal Mike Snow appreciates the support and contributions Officer Barnes makes to his team. A major goal was to hit the ground running to implement plans to ensure that students, parents and community members know that Cavelero is a safe school, has high academic standards, and is dedicated to the success of each child.
“Officer Barnes strengthens our team —he believes in the goals of our school, he believes in the students, he welcomes feedback and he is always looking for ways to make Cavelero an even better place for our students.” Principal Snow went on to say, “He is proactive in solving problems and is a valuable resource to our students and families.”
Officer Barnes also works with and is a resource for all south end Lake Stevens Schools including Glenwood Elementary, Skyline Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary and Lake Stevens Middle School. Additionally, he serves as a member of the district-wide Safe Schools Committee.
This is the first in a three-part series. Check out next week’s Lake Stevens Journal for the second parting the series.