Detective Bill Barnes: A Staple to the Safety of Our School

photo gotten from

photo gotten from

Detective Bill Barnes, this school’s Resource Officer and juvenile detective at the Tenafly Police Department, dedicates his time to protecting and ensuring the safety of students and teachers alike. But what most people do not realize is that his job entails much more than just that, in and out of the school.

Barnes knew he wanted to be a cop since he was 15 years old. At age 21, he began working with the police at the Stone Harbor Police Department in South Jersey. He began working with the Tenafly Police department as a dispatcher in 2005 and became an official police officer in 2006.

He began working at this school in October of 2014. As part of his job as a school resource officer, his responsibilities include implementing school procedures, assisting administrators, and guiding students. “I guess one of my main responsibilities is the safety and security of the building. But also, as a School Resource Officer, I’m a resource for any student and faculty member that needs anything,” said Barnes. “There’s a few [kids] that are constantly in my office asking questions about things. Some just pop in for random things, others pop in to say ‘something was stolen out of my locker, what can we do about it?’ It’s a bunch of different things.” He also mentioned that sometimes teachers pop in asking questions about tickets.

What many people do not realize is that Detective Barnes does still work with the police department as an on-call officer. “I have many responsibilities within the police department itself, one of them being the juvenile detective, so I’m technically tasked to the detective bureau as the juvenile officer,” said Barnes. The detective bureau is in charge of investigations, meaning that even when Barnes leaves school for the day, if there is a burglary in town, for example, Barnes can get called to the scene. He said that kind of thing has happened before. “It’s one job but sometimes you get called in for different things. And any detective can get called in at any time. We have to be available all the time. It’s fun,” said Barnes. Barnes has specific training for juvenile matters, so he is the juvenile detective in the school. He explained that some of the things kids do are not crimes, but status offenses. He used the example that if a kid were to run away, it is not a crime because if an adult were to do so, it would not be an issue.

Barnes mentioned that currently, the biggest issue at the school is the juuling epidemic. “I think it’s taken people off guard because it’s such a new thing. But I think a lot of people also don’t realize what it is exactly,” said Barnes. “I’ve been talking to the freshmen about it, and I’ve been talking to anybody who wants to talk about it. I’ve caught a few people, unfortunately, using it in school.He also mentioned that the school’s changes in policy reflect what the consequences of juuling can be, and how significant of an issue it really is.

Since the Florida shooting, people have questioned what the role of a school cop would be in that kind of situation, and whether he or she would respond. “I don’t talk tactics, I’m not supposed to talk tactics. But just know that I would wholeheartedly be there,” said Barnes.

This is your school, but it is also my school, and just as if it were my house and someone was attacking my house, damn straight I’m gonna do something about it.

— Detective Barnes

Barnes’s employment at the school is maintained through a contract between the police department and the Board of Education. Every year the Board decides if they want to keep the contract or not. If they were to terminate it, Barnes would go back to working at the police department. “I just keep going, doing my thing until they tell me not to,” said Barnes. “I do enjoy it. I enjoy the community policing aspect of it. I enjoy the fact that I get to know students.” According to him, if he were to ever stop, he would miss it. “I would miss the kids, big time. I’d miss things like this, sitting in a lunchroom, doing interviews. I enjoy it. And actually being able to help these kids out with issues that they otherwise might not come to a police officer for, you know,” said Barnes. “Even if it’s minor, if we can figure out a solution to something, I really do enjoy that.”

In the end, Detective Barnes does a lot more than most students realize. His caring attitude plays an active part in the Tenafly community. One can only hope he is here to help the school in the future.  

P.S. His gun is real.