Foundation in faith and family guides Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy

David Barnette, Harrison County Sheriff's Office (Piney Woods News Photo)
David Barnette, Harrison County Sheriff’s Office (Piney Woods News Photo)

From Staff Reports,

HARRISON COUNTY – David C. Barnette, 55, has been a deputy with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office since 2012, and like most law enforcement officers, he doesn’t like attention.

“Anything that we do here is a combination of teamwork – everyone from the dispatchers to the jailers to the deputies on patrol contributes to the work we are able to accomplish,” Barnette said humbly. “No one man can do all of this.”

Lt. Jay Webb of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office said of Barnette, “He is being modest in talking about his abilities,” Webb said. In fact, the day before the interview took place, Barnette, during a regular traffic stop on a reckless driver in Harrison County, was able to arrest an individual on several charges, including a felony of manufacturing and delivering drugs. He confiscated around 78 grams of methamphetamines.

“Though David is older, he has the heart of a rookie. He knows all the questions to ask,” Webb said.

Barnette smiled, and said he was just doing the job he was supposed to do.

The Texarkana native graduated from Kilgore College in 2012, and received his bachelor degree from Wiley College in 2015. His current roles with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office include being on patrol and serving as the department’s mental health transport deputy. He is also a certified firearms instructor, and serves on the HCSO’s emergency response team.

When asked why he decided to become a deputy sheriff, Barnette handed over a paper he wrote for a class at Wiley College. “This will explain it all,” he said.

Growing up as the fifth son of six boys, Barnette called his upbringing normal. “Having a two-parent family was a definite blessing. My mother taught me to stand up for what I believe in and to respect women in general. She encouraged me and loved me unconditionally.”

“My father emphasized the importance of respect for others regardless of being rich or poor, race or ethnicity, Christian or sinner. He made certain that I dressed appropriately, and that I said yes sir or yes ma’am, maintained my grades, and made certain we were in church on Sundays,” Barnette said.

During his early childhood, Barnette said he wanted to go into law enforcement, but it was until he lost someone close to him that he felt like he could go into that career.

It was his foundation that he got from his parents that helped him know that was really what he needed to do. “From an early age, it has always bothered me to see someone being picked on or abused. There has always been an internal mechanism that goes into automatic overdrive that has caused me to intervene in disputes or try and prevent someone form being taken advantage of. It’s an inner strength that give me the courage, conviction and self-confidence to do what I must do on a day-to-basis,” he said.

“I believe this inner-strength is a direct derivative of my upbringing, my faith in God, and knowing that my time on this earth is severely limited. In fact, I often think that if the worst happens one day, that eternal life awaits and I will see those that have gone on before me … it will be a homecoming,” Barnette smiles as he talks about his family and faith.

“Having this faith is my secret to my confidence and strength, and no mortal man can ever take this away from me though I may lose everything else this world has to offer,” he explained.

Barnette’s good ethics and strong character has never gone unnoticed at the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Webb said, “David was reserve deputy of the year. When he was reservist, he was allowed to have a car … we don’t ever give a reserve deputy a car. He is a valuable asset here.” After eight months of services as a reserve deputy, Barnette went to work full-time.

Listening to Lt. Webb speak caused Barnette to sincerely blush. He brushes away any compliments by directing conversation to the department as a whole. “I am grateful for the opportunities that the Sheriff and they have given me.”

“An individual must also find the career that give him or her fulfillment and self-efficacy or they will never be truly happy … to have a career that is in essence answering a calling and allows an individual to sue their inner-strengths or gifts from God gives one bearing, purpose and meaning in life that is far greater than any paycheck,” Barnette said.

When asked what he would tell anyone who was looking into getting in law enforcement, Barnette paused. “I would recommend that they go to any agency and ask if they can do a ride-a-long. Of course, there are some liabilities, and some agencies may not be able to do that. But if they can do a ride-a-long, I think that would help anyone make a decision about this is a career.”

If he had to clear up any misconceptions that everyday citizens have about law enforcement officers, Barnette said it would be about race relations. “We do not profile people in regards to race, we profile in regards to criminal activity.”

In his free time, Barnette is like most men in east Texas. He likes to hunt and shoot, and is a member of the East Texas Pistol and Rifle Club. He collects World War II items, and spends time with family.

Barnette wrote at the conclusion of his college paper, “I am living my life in such a way that you are never too old to stop learning or to pursue your dream. I’m still not sure where I’ll end up, but have never felt so strongly of being on the right track then I do today, this hour and this minute.”

His final sentence seemed to sum up Barnette’s mantra in life – “Never give up.”

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