Departing Harrington chief hailed as ‘stand-up officer and boss’

Barlow served in department 28 years

By Craig Anderson
Posted 1/19/22

HARRINGTON — After he has filled in as city manager three separate times since 2011, Norman Barlow is the one who needs to be replaced now.

Mr. Barlow, 50, retired as the city’s police chief Dec. 31, 2021, leaving a void in the department and out in the community.

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Departing Harrington chief hailed as ‘stand-up officer and boss’

Barlow served in department 28 years

Posted

HARRINGTON — After he has filled in as city manager three separate times since 2011, Norman Barlow is the one who needs to be replaced now.

Mr. Barlow, 50, retired as the city’s police chief Dec. 31, 2021, leaving a void in the department and out in the community.

He’s still serving the municipality, though, as acting city manager, a role he also held in 2011 and 2019-20, as well.

Deputy Chief Keith Shyers, now the agency’s acting police chief, lauded Mr. Barlow, who he has known since 1994.

“He’s just someone who’s a stand-up person, officer and boss,” Deputy Chief Shyers said. “It’s always (been) a pleasure to work with him, and he’d do anything for you.”

When it comes to connecting with the populace, he added, Mr. Barlow “is very effective in the community.”

“I don’t think there’s a person in town that doesn’t know him and would not speak very highly of him. With our officers here, he’d put his uniform on just to come into work if someone needed a day off or for sickness or had to be somewhere. He’d definitely put his hands in the middle of everything to help his officers out.”

Asked about his plans after his 28-year law enforcement career, Mr. Barlow said, “I’m looking forward to my next opportunity.”

Of the decision to retire, he added, “I don’t know when there is a best time. The police world is always dear to my heart. I love public safety. I love helping people as much as I can and doing what I can to make this a better community. I just came to a time in my life when opportunities came about, and it was time to pull the plug and to go into another venture, go somewhere to try and learn something else.

“I’ve talked to some retired police officers, and some say they had their minds made that they were going. There’s no right or wrong way of doing it, but I had a lot of sleepless nights before making the decision.”

Mr. Barlow expressed gratitude for the support and love of his wife and three daughters during his career.

Looking back, he said, “There’s a lot of things that I’ll miss about the police department and a lot of things we were able to accomplish. Some of the biggest things I’ll miss about being a police officer is being in the community and being involved with the men and women of my department and working with them as a team to bring out new ideas.”

Specifically, Mr. Barlow noted the addition of a community policing vehicle as a highlight of his tenure, along with National Night Out activities and family movie nights that brought residents together. He also started the school resource officer program at W.T. Chipman Middle School.

In addition, Mr. Barlow created the department slogan “Making a Difference” for its community efforts.

His seven-month stint as acting city manager during 2019-20 came following the firing of then-City Manager Don Williams and the resignation of then-Mayor Anthony Moyer, both of whom the Public Integrity Commission determined committed various transgressions while in office. Mr. Barlow opted not to comment on that time.

The Lake Forest High graduate earned an associate degree in criminal justice from Delaware Technical Community College. He joined the Harrington Police Department as its ninth member, after completing the Delaware State Police Academy in 1994.

By 2009, Mr. Barlow had ascended through the ranks and was named chief. He earned four Harrington Police Officer of the Year awards during his career and was the recipient of the Municipal Chief of the Year honor for 2014.

The Chief Norman Barlow Pavilion in Harrington’s Freedom Park was named in his honor in 2013. The facility, which serves as a gathering spot for numerous neighborhood activities, was partially funded by drug money confiscated by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Those accomplishments were a combined effort between police officers, city employees and elected officials past and present, Mr. Barlow said. He expressed thanks to past police chiefs, saying, “I like to think that each of us has helped lay the foundation and contributed in their own unique ways to make the Harrington Police Department the successful police department (it) is today.

“My hope is that the next chief will continue to build on that foundation and bring their own unique contributions to the department.”

Times have changed since Mr. Barlow entered his policing career nearly three decades ago, and he pointed to rising drug offenses (especially heroin-related) and a drop in respect for law enforcement as key differences.

“Our law enforcement officers put their life on the line all the time and get out and try to do the best they can for the community. They do the best to serve, and sometimes, they’re unwanted,” he said.