Police Officer Chris Barton Believes in Service
Barton helps fellow officers and the Avon community in his free time
When fellow Avon police officer Pete Soto was critically injured in an on-duty motorcycle crash in 2010, Chris Barton and his fellow cops felt the one thing police officers hate to feel.
Police officers are used to being in charge in a crisis, said Barton's supervisor, Keith Haag. Helplessness is something officers don't like facing, or talking about.
"We had to leave it up to the doctors, nurses and medical staff," Haag said. "That can be hard for people who are used to taking care of business. And that's on top of being scared for him and his family."
Barton responded in the manner of someone who has taken the "serve" part of "Protect and Serve" to heart.
Four months after Soto's injuries, Barton had organized a fundraising chili cookoff to help Soto and his family. The event was a big success, raising $12,500 for Soto.
This year, the chili cookoff returned, with some changes. It was even bigger than last year, with nine area law enforcement organizations and the Warthogs Motorcycle Club competing. And it was a benefit for the Lorain County Blue Foundation, which will assist police officers injured on duty and the families of officers killed on duty.
Barton started the Lorain County Blue Foundation, too. He was inspired by Stephen Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, Barton said.
"Whenever something happens, like when Pete was hurt, Steve was there stepping up and doing what was right," Barton said. "We should take care of our own in Lorain County and surrounding communities like that."
Soto is glad to be affiliated with that cause.
"It's awesome that we're doing this," he said at this year's chili cook-off. "I remember when I was hurt and (Loomis) came to the hospital and brought my family food, drinks, and blankets because he knew they'd be staying there. When (Elyria police officer) Jim Kerstetter was killed, they were there with a check for his family to help out. Towns like Avon, Avon Lake, even Lorain, our departments are too small to do something like that alone. But we can band together and help families."
In addition to organizing the chili cook-off and starting a foundation, Barton helped run a food drive in his Stonebridge neighborhood. He's planning a second Lorain County Blue Foundation fundraiser for the summer, he said, likely a steak fry or clambake.
Barton also pitched in to help fellow officer Robert Olds when Olds organized a blood drive this past summer, and has taken over as president of the Avon Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 145.
That level of dedication has not gone unnoticed.
"He's dedicated to the job," Haag said. "Being a police officer, you get very connected and concerned with the people you work with."
Barton's a busy guy, between police work with his K9 Lennox and time with his family. What drives him to do more?
"I like to give back," Barton said. "I live in Avon, so I take care of the community that takes care of me and my family."
It also springs from being a police officer, Barton said.
"I bleed blue," he said. "I truly believe in the idea of brotherhood and sisterhood, and that we should take care of each other. Remember when Jason West, Jim Kerstetter and Andy Dunn were killed, the way police departments came together to support each other? That's how it should be. Not just in law enforcement, but in communities."