Gale Barnes

Gale Barnes

Cpl. Gale BarnesCpl. Gale Barnes remembers like it was yesterday. While stopped in her vehicle in the BioPark, an 8- or 9-year-old kid dove straight through the window of her police cruiser. Startled, she talked with the boy and learned that he had no adult looking out for him. Barnes decided to become that adult. 

This story is quintessentially Barnes, a member of the University of Maryland, Baltimore Police Department (UMBPD) for more than 12 years. She's small, but she's tough. She never shows fear.

"People try to take my kindness for weakness," Barnes says. "You have to be firm in this job, assertive. But you can still be positive and say hello to everyone."

Barnes joined the department looking for a challenging career and exciting work. She has family members who have worked in law enforcement. She wanted to help her community.

That compassion shows as she patrols near Lexington Market. Barnes volunteered to work in the area and was posted there in January 2019. "There's a mutual respect," she says. "I want to help and provide counseling for those who may be addicted or going through crisis."

In her free time, Barnes says she's a "foodie" and likes to go out to eat with her husband. She sews beautiful clothing (a skill she learned from her mother), but between Catholic school and working for UMBPD, she's worn a uniform for most of her life. 

Despite her success, Barnes is humble. "I don't like to toot my own horn. I just do the best job I can every day."

The boy who dove through Barnes's window is now 21 years old, working as a security officer at a local mall, and wants to be a police officer one day. For more than a decade, Barnes watched out for him, kept in contact, and served as a role model for the boy and his family. Today, he calls her "Mom."