For years, Bill Barksdale has led the Maple Leaf Parade from a patrol car, making sure the route is clear of people and obstructions.

For years, Bill Barksdale has led the Maple Leaf Parade from a patrol car, making sure the route is clear of people and obstructions.
"Part of my job for several years has been clearing the parade route and making sure no one turns into it or gets in front of it," the 34-year veteran Carthage Police lieutenant said. "And I've told literally thousands of people that I'm not the parade, it's behind me, it will be here soon. I won't be able to say that this year. This year I'm in the parade."
The Carthage Maple Leaf Committee selected Barksdale as the 2014 Maple Leaf Parade Grand Marshall, meaning he'll be riding about four units further back, and he won't have to worry about driving.

Nominating letter
The committee said the nominating letter stated in part that Bill’s community contributions are “really too much to name and he has also straightened out a whole bunch of teens."
"He was the Department’s first D.A.R.E. officer and played Santa Claus at the LaVerne Williams Children’s Christmas Party for many years," the committee said. "As part of his duties, Lt. Barksdale helps coordinate law enforcement efforts for both Marian Days and Mudstock.  He is also an adjunct instructor at MSSU’s law enforcement academy, region 3 coordinator for Special Olympics, active on the board of his church, and has participated in both the Salvation Army bell ringing and Polar Bear Plunge to raise charitable funds for the last several years."
Barksdale, a man who is rarely at a loss for words, told the committee to mark Wednesday's date down when told of the honor, "because I think I'm at a loss for words."
"I was shocked and stunned and honored all at the same time," Barksdale said in an interview with The Carthage Press on Thursday. "When the Chief called me on the cell phone and said hey, I need you at the chamber of commerce immediately, I came over and it was not what I was expecting at all. Dumbfounded would be another word. It was probably one of the few times in my life that I've been at a loss for words."

35 years with CPD
Barksdale will celebrate 35 years with the Carthage Police Department next year.
The current commander of the department's detectives division said he's never considered a law enforcement job anywhere but the community where he grew up.
"Carthage is my hometown," he said. "I'm not sure I would have left to go somewhere else to do law enforcement. When I started as a reserve, I was assistant manager at Quick Trip at Centennial and Garrison. Police officers were coming in and they always had some neat stories they were telling and it seemed like, neat thing they were doing."
Barksdale and Sgts. Doug Dickey and Kevin Provins started working for the department at almost the same time.
"You look around at different agencies and very seldom do you have people who are there longer than 20 or 25 years," Barksdale said. "Joplin had 20 and out as part of their retirement. I don't think they have anybody that's past 20, but you look here, besides Doug, Kevin and myself you have Steve Crews has over 30, David Martin has over 30, Bill Hawkins has over 30. There are six or seven of us who have spent a lot of years doing this."
Barksdale was a patrol officer for many years. He tested for sergeant five times before finally achieving the position, then he tested for lieutenant and has held that position since 1984.
He commanded the night shift of patrol officers for several years, then when Greg Dagnan took over as chief, he became commander of the patrol division.
In December of 2013, he had shoulder surgery, then he took over the detectives division when he came back.

Treating people right
Barksdale said he's seen many bad things in his career, some things that may never leave his memory, but he tries to put those things out of his head.
"My attitude is PMA, positive mental attitude, PMA, PMA, PMA," Barksdale said. "You can go into things looking sour, the guys used to make fun of me on patrol because I'd start my day going out to Cubby Bears at Precious Moments and they were always laughing at me, why are you out there. I said, guys, here's people who want to be in Carthage, they're tourists, they're happy to be here, they're here with a smile and for the right reasons. I'll deal with the problems of everyone else later in the night, but I'm going to start my night off on a happy note."
Barksdale said he tried to help as many people as he can, even as he's writing them a ticket or even putting handcuffs on them and taking them to jail.
"Even guys that have done bad things or done wrong things, you can still treat them right and still get them through the system and make that experience a little more positive for them," Barksdale said. "That's one of the things that most everybody in law enforcement realizes, when you arrest somebody, you've not only impacted their world, but their family's world too. Even a speeding ticket to a teenager, which doesn't seem to be a huge thing for us because teenagers speed, but in a teenager's world, the things that happen with his parents and whether or not he can drive the car anymore and the insurance and all those things that come out have a huge impact, so you've got to try to make it positive and try to work it through."