HE HAS struck a chord with the Coventry community for more than two decades, but PC Barney Barnes is now hanging up his hat.
Now aged 66 the fondly known Sheriff of Hillfields has decided it is time to enjoy retirement following a knee operation.
The popular officer has been a regular sight on the streets of Hillfields for more than 25 years – and he received an MBE for his dedication to neighbourhood policing in 2008.
Despite ending his time as an officer, Barney will not end his association with the force as he will continue as musical director of the highly regards West Midlands Police Brass Band.
Grandfather-of-two Barney joined West Midlands Police in 1990 after 25 years touring the world with the military.
His familiar face proved to hit the right note with the public – even reformed offenders took time to come over and shake his hand.
Barney’s passion for protecting the community has been matched by his joy of music in his spare time.
He was initially a drummer before becoming a musical director – going on to conduct hundreds of shows with the WMP band and a separate military one from his army days.
One of the more memorable occasions was during a performance at a Birmingham shopping centre – which ended in the arrest of a robber.
A lad being pursued by police jumped from a balcony in the middle of the stage.
As band members dropped their instruments to arrest him, Barney helped carry on the show in front of a large audience.
Barney, who will spend the extra time with family and enjoying hobbies, will be the guest of honour at a celebration to mark his time with the force this month.
The Coventry-based former officer said: “I have enjoyed the diversity of the role and being able to make a difference, there is nothing nicer than seeing an appreciative smile.
“I feel proud of what I have achieved and being awarded the MBE was an unbelievable moment.
“My overriding emotion is I can hold my head up high, and say I did what I could to improve lives and didn’t let people down.
“I will miss the camaraderie of the role, the people and my area of Hillfields.
“I have really missed it while I have been off after the operation.
“I am looking forward to retirement but I aim to carry on with the band for quite a while yet.
“It is really enjoyable and we do play a lot for good causes.
“Hopefully I will see former colleagues and even some faces I know from around Hillfields at future concerts – it has been a pleasure to be associated with the force and the community for all these years.”