INDIAN TOWNSHIP, Maine — He may have changed locations, but he hasn’t changed jobs.
Former Pleasant Point Police Chief Joseph Barnes, 40, has been hired as acting police chief at the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s Indian Township reservation. Barnes will serve in that capacity for the next 11 weeks.
After that, he said, he will discuss other options in law enforcement with Indian Township tribal officials.
Barnes succeeds Chief Alex Nicholas, who is attending an 11-week training class at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.
“I plan to stay in law enforcement, but right now the pressing need was helping the police department out,” he said of the Indian Township Police Department.
Barnes has been a police officer for more than 20 year. He was in his 20s when he was appointed police chief at Pleasant Point in 1992, the youngest on the reservation. In 2000, the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Waterville certified Barnes as a police chief. He was the first American Indian in the state to receive such certi-fication.
At Pleasant Point, he helped the department grow from four to eight police officers including one that is on assignment with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. “With the grants we received [through the federal government] it helped build the department from 24-hour operation with single coverage to double coverage every night and extra police cars,” he said Wednesday.
Barnes conceded that although it was difficult to leave Pleasant Point, it was time. He said he resigned for personal reasons. “My family has gone through a lot this past year and I think that plays a little bit into it,” he said. “I had a lot of time to reflect on a lot of things and just decided it was time.”
Last year was a difficult time for the Barnes family. The police chief’s brother, Jimmy, died unexpectedly and his father, who is fire chief at Pleasant Point, lost a leg to diabetes.
During his years as police chief at Pleasant Point, Barnes was recognized on several occasions for his work in law enforcement.
In 2006, he was selected to receive the Chief of Police of the Year Award from the National Native American Law Enforcement Association. The award was the first for a Maine American Indian police chief.
In 2000 Barnes, working with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, helped deal a blow to the prescription drug problem on the reservation when a covert operation led to the arrest of some 15 people. Three years later, the MDEA presented Barnes and former tribal Investigator Robert Dore with the distinguished Maine Drug Task Force Service Award.