The problem with having someone in a position of trust is that, sometimes, you can’t trust them.
Superintendents and priests have abused their positions to abuse our children. Politicians abuse their positions to enrich themselves with public dollars. Cops turn into robbers.
Brian Barker was an Edwardsville police officer. He abused his position of trust, sometimes on duty and in uniform, to prey on the community he swore to serve and protect.
For 15 years he took from residents and businesses. Think about that: 15 years. Police confiscated 5,000 pieces of evidence. That’s 5,000 times he either took something from his community that wasn’t his or left a trace of his crimes. He even set an office on fire to cover his tracks.
Never miss a local story.
So for 15 years he got away with it. And with each little theft he was emboldened and felt more entitled to take because he risked his life or didn’t get a raise or wasn’t promoted or because his sister was viciously murdered.
You have to question, just as in any betrayal of trust, didn’t anyone know or suspect something over the course of 15 years?
Maybe it was the corrupt former Edwardsville police chief, James Bedell, who stole $138,000 in towing fees to support his gambling. Maybe it was former Edwardsville officer Michael Collins, who was perving on women in a tanning salon with his department cell phone. Maybe there was just a suspicion that something was “off” with Barker.
Edwardsville Police Chief Jay Keeven says not. He said it was a gut-wrenching shock to see video of Bedell in the act. Keeven immediately took the investigation outside his department and to the sheriff.
Reviews of department policy and a citizen advisory group followed. He said the department retains overwhelming public support.
Officers deserve that support.