Metro Patrol Division’s new major, Marisa Barnes, is home again.
Metro is where Barnes got his start in policing after graduating from the police academy 20 years ago. In fact, when Barnes moved to Metro in January as a major, she already knew some of the professional staff because they were there when Barnes was a rookie officer.
“I started when Metro was on 63rd Street, but Metro has a special place in my heart,” Barnes said. “When I started out, I was amazed they paid us to come and do this. It is now full circle to be the commander.
Metro is also where Barnes grew up and was inspired. In high school, he saw the police interacting with his friends. It was the tone that bothered her.
“Instead of complaining about things, I figured I was part of the change,” Barnes said.
He played basketball at Tuskegee University, but no criminal justice was offered. Then Barnes studied social work, received her master’s degree from the University of Kansas and spent a year as a social worker. In 2002, wanting to use her degree in a different way, she joined the KCPD.
A lifelong athlete, Barnes became the first woman at KCPD to teach physical training and defensive tactics at the police academy. A sergeant encouraged her to learn Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and she was a natural. However, she admits that trying to teach peers challenged her.
“Once I’ve demonstrated it on a few people, I’ve earned respect,” explained Barnes. “I was also one of the only female fighters in (training) situations. I grew up from all of that.
In his new role, Barnes would like to encourage officers as they begin their careers. She understands the agents face more scrutiny and hopes they see that she is there to support them.
“I have to understand what the officers need and what I can do to boost morale,” said Barnes. “This is a big deal right now. As a leader, it’s important to understand how I can best help officers do their jobs.”
Outside of her responsibilities, Barnes teaches the Women’s Self Defense class at the KCPD, teaches tactics for the National Law Enforcement Training Center, and helps local colleges with police training.
One passion is Camp Fury, a program for Girl Scouts to learn about careers in law enforcement and firefighting. She believes more women are needed in the police force and that they bring different skillsets. [Note: KCPD belongs to the 30×30 Initiative which is focused on increasing the number of female officers.]
“From the moment the girls spend with us at Camp Fury, you see the difference in their attitude and confidence,” Barnes said. “Even if they don’t become a police officer or a firefighter, they discover things about themselves that can help them gain self-confidence.”