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Council Members React To Police Chief Retirement Announcement

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Mark Barnard named new Lexington police chief (From 2014) Mark Barnard named new Lexington police chief (From 2014)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) - Lexington's police chief will step down at the beginning of next year.

In a letter to Mayor Jim Gray, Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard announced he is retiring, effective January 7.

LEX 18 News reached out to the members of the Urban County Council for their reaction.

Jake Gibbs expressed how many other council members are feeling.

"Oh I was sad. I didn't know anything about it. I like him a whole lot, he's a really good guy," said Gibbs, who represents District 3.

Gibbs is one of the 15 people who make up the council. Members talk to Chief Barnard regularly, but that a partnership is coming to an end.

He was the city's top cop for just three years, but dedicated more than 30 years to the department.

"I wish him well. And I congratulate him on his dedicated service to Lexington," said Joe Smith, who represents District 2.

Bill Farmer, Jr., says the chief was instrumental in establishing a new roll call center.

"He's done a great job rebuilding our force, hiring over 200-something police officers. Training them, putting them out," said Farmer, who represents District 5.

"I know since I've been on council, the diversity of public safety is one of the issues I try to address. And I think that Chief Barnard was responsive to that," said James Brown, who represents District 1.

Council members Peggy Henson (District 11) and Jennifer Scutchfield both highlighted the body camera initiative.

"Lexington's been lucky not to have any issues happen, and I think he saw this as a protection, not only for our constituents, but for the police force," said Scutchfield, who until 11/30/2017, represented District 7.

Last, but not least, Farmer said the night the Confederate statues were removed from Cheapside Park could not have gone any smoother thanks to the careful planning of Chief Barnard.

"He provided for a lot of security. A whole lot planning. A whole lot of things that kept everyone working on that safe, and everyone spectating safe," said Farmer. "That's a signal of a man doing his job. Keeping everyone safe."

Peggy Henson was part of the committee who recommended Barnard for the Chief position. She said the department was excellent before he ascended to the position, and he leaves behind a giant legacy.

"I always appreciate someone that has dedicated that many number of years of service the people of Fayette County," said Henson.

In a statement, Scutchfield also said: "Chief Barnard has been a tireless advocate for our city. He has spent over 30 years of his life in uniform, protecting each and everyone of us. I wish him the best in his next endeavor. "

Councilmember Kathy Plomin (District 12): "Chief Barnard has done an excellent job and will be missed. He has given 31 years to the public service needs of our community and his past three years as our police chief has yielded many innovative initiatives that will continue to benefit our city as we move forward. His retirement is well deserved."

Councilmember Amanda Bledsoe (District 10): "As a mother and Councilmember, I have always believed public safety is the number one priority of City government. He is the only chief that I’ve had the privilege of serving with and I am grateful for his 31 years of service to our community. He was the right person at the right time as our country struggled through policing and trust within communities. He’s always put our men and women in blue first and I know the police department and our community is better for his dedication and service to us. We wish him the best.”

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