North District has a new Commander: Joshua Barker

by Chris Bavender

On Jan. 25, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Bryan Roach appointed 37-year-old Lieutenant Joshua Barker as Commander of North District. He replaces Commander Chris Bailey, who will now lead the Homeland Security Bureau. [PDF] Barker, an Indianapolis native, was raised on the west side and has worked in North District two years this April. Indy Midtown Magazine sat down with Barker to learn more about him, his policing philosophy, and his goals for the future of North District.

What made you want to get into law enforcement? 

I am a second-generation Indianapolis police officer. My father, Jerry Barker, served from 1969 to 2009 and was chief of the Indianapolis Police Department from 2000 to 2005. I truly believe this profession is a calling, and I can remember from a very early age wanting nothing more than to be a police officer. As I grew older I understood the importance of working hard and taking responsibility to make my community a better place.

How have you seen North District and Midtown change over your two years with the district? 

I have had the opportunity to see the collaboration between North District/Midtown grow under the watch of Commander Chris Bailey and have had the opportunity to be a part of several of those discussions. I am committed to continuing that progress to focus our efforts on the Midtown area. Working firsthand with our partners in Midtown has been a great resource to assure North District’s goals, and objectives for addressing crime and disorder are consistent with the vision of Great Places 2020, Tarkington Park, and other projects.

What made you want the position of North District Commander? 

I embrace the North District policing philosophy and have seen firsthand the positive impact it can have on a neighborhood like Butler-Tarkington, for example. And that philosophy is positive community engagement, quality arrests and investigations, removing illegally possessed firearms and narcotics from the street, identifying and mitigating quality of life issues, and utilizing data to drive policing initiatives to focus on the people, places, and activities that contribute to crime and disorder.

What strengths do you bring as the new Commander?

Continuity, energy, and motivated officers who realize the importance of and embrace our North District policing philosophy. I supervised the North District Neighborhood InPAcT [Indianapolis Parole Accountability Team] unit prior to being appointed as Commander. That gave me a remarkable opportunity over the last two years to speak with our residents, business owners, clergy, and community stakeholders. I have listened to the neighborhood issues and shared information and solicited feedback from community groups regarding our officers’ performance. When I was asked by Chief Bryan Roach to consider taking command of North District, the discussion of continuity was paramount. Now that I have been given the opportunity, there is comfort knowing I am taking this job alongside my community partners and comfort knowing that trust is there. We as police officers cannot positively impact the crime and disorder in our community alone. It is imperative to cultivate friendships built on mutual respect and trust to promote police-community partnership. The Midtown area is no different, so having that historical knowledge and existing relationships in the neighborhoods it of vital importance.

What do you see as the challenges for Midtown?

Things have been going extremely well—especially in Butler-Tarkington and Crown Hill neighborhoods but also in Broad Ripple. We have a very good relationship with the BRVA and bar and business owners. North District is committed to dedicating resources to the Village throughout the year to ensure everyone’s safety. Still, I think we have to fight complacency. When things are going well, sometimes people tend to become less engaged. We need people to continue to fight back against crime, stay united, keep doing public safety walks, and keep talking to each other. If we can all avoid being complacent, things will continue to improve.

What are your hopes and goals for Midtown?

I want Midtown to be an example for other neighborhoods that are looking to make long-term, impactful change in their community. I want them to share their successes and help other neighborhoods experience the same success. Because when all of our neighborhoods win, we all win.

Chris Bavender is a freelance writer in SoBro with more than 20 years’ experience as a print and broadcast journalist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram