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home : opinion : columnist November 24, 2017

11/5/2017 12:01:00 AM
A Moment A Parole Officer Won't Forget

Paulette Ballard
Guest Columnist


I seem to meet a lot of people for my columns while I’m having my car serviced. Such was the case last week when I met Officer Barnes from Gastonia. I saw him come into the room and I noticed he was wearing a gun. After telling the man behind the counter what he needed done to his car, he came and sat down in the waiting area. I was reading a book, but decided to approach him with my questions.

I asked him if he was a police officer and he told me he was a parole officer. I asked him what was a moment he would never forget and he told me about a young man he found living in a horse barn. The young man had not come in for his parole appointment so Officer Barnes had the task of trying to locate him. 



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Officer Barnes went to his home and his wife told Officer Barnes that she had thrown him out. The young man had gone across the street and made living arrangements in a horse barn.  The walls were falling down and the roof was caving in, but he was hiding there. When Officer Barnes found him he found drug paraphernalia with him and he was placed in handcuffs and taken to jail where he now awaits his court date.

This young man was in his late 20’s or early 30’s. Unfortunately he had starting using drugs again and will now face charges for that and violating his parole.

Sometimes I think I watch too much TV because I have questions about things I’ve seen on TV. I asked Officer Barnes if it was true that drugs and other contraband were brought into the jails and prisons for inmates. His response was, “All the time.” Inquiring how this happens, he told me of a case where an officer was called to a prisoner’s cell. The prisoner asked the officer to obtain drugs for him. Of course the officer refused and at that time the prisoner showed the officer a photo of his wife dropping his children off at school. This is the kind of threat used often to get what a prisoner wants brought to them. I was told drugs are brought in by nurses as well as administration employees.

Officer Barnes told me most people who see him wearing a gun are afraid of him and he was surprised when I approached him with questions. I didn’t have anything to be afraid of so I felt comfortable talking to him.



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