The new Major at Metro Patrol Division, Marisa Barnes is home again.
Metro is where Barnes began policing after graduating from the police academy 20 years ago. In fact, when Barnes transferred to Metro in January as the major, she already knew some of the professional staff because they were there when Barnes was a rookie officer.
“I started when Metro used to be on 63rd Street, but Metro has a special place in my heart,” Barnes said. “When I started, I was amazed they pay us to come and do this. Now it’s full circle being the commander.”
Metro is also where Barnes grew up and grew inspired. In high school, she watched police interact with friends. It was the tone that bothered her.
“Instead of complaining about things, I thought I’d be a part of the change,” Barnes said.
She played basketball at Tuskegee University, but criminal justice wasn’t offered. So 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 differently, she joined KCPD.
Always an 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. Though, she admits trying to teach her peers challenged her.
“Once I demonstrated on a couple of people, I earned respect,” Barnes explained. “I was also one of the only female fighters in situationals (training). I grew from all that.”
In her new role, Barnes would like to encourage officers who are early in their careers. She understands officers face increased scrutiny and hopes they see she is there to support them.
“I have to figure out what the officers need and what I can do to boost morale,” Barnes said. “That’s a huge issue right now. As a leader, it’s important to figure out how best I can help the officers do their jobs.”
Outside of her responsibilities, Barnes teaches the women’s self-defense class at 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 policing and that they bring different skill sets. [Note: KCPD belongs to the 30x30 Initiative which is focused on increasing the number of female officers.]
“From the time the young ladies 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 firefighter, they find out things about themselves that can empower them to have confidence in themselves.”