LPD Chief Barnett retires today; Kozal to take over Thursday.

May 6, 2020

Mark Barnett

LPD Chief Barnett retires today; Kozal to take over Thursday.

#LudingtonNews.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

Editor’s Note: It has been an honor to work with Chief Mark Barnett in various capacities over the last 19 years. I am proud to call him my friend. Mark is one of the most humble men I know and truly cares about the citizens he serves, not only in the City of Ludington but all of Mason County. A phone call to Chief Barnett is never short, because we not only discuss the topic at hand but also have extensive conversations about our families, faith, and various other subjects. I look forward to the phone calls continuing — with less talk about crime. I also look forward to working with Chief Kozal. 

LUDINGTON —Today, Wednesday, May 6, 2020, is Mark Barnett’s last day serving as Ludington Police Department chief. Barnett is retiring after serving 43 1/2 years in law enforcement; 19 of those years as Ludington police chief. Beginning Thursday, Timothy Kozal will take over as chief of police. Kozal most recently has served as public safety director for the City of Manistee (see related story here).

Barnett was originally scheduled to retire April 15 but the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay in the transition. City Manager Mitch Foster said a retirement party for Chief Barnett will be held at a later date.

Mark Barnett is the second longest serving law enforcement administrator in the city’s history; longest serving was Timothy Barber who served for 31 years between 1919 to 1950 (see below for list of all chiefs).

Prior to coming to Ludington in 2001, Barnett served on the Pontiac Police Department for just over 24 years. When he retires, he will have been in law enforcement for 43 years, 5 months.

Barnett spoke very humbly about his service to the city.

“I’m proud of the collaboration this department has with the other law enforcement and public safety entities in Mason County and other counties. We are not a large town and we really depend on working together. I am proud that this department does that and that every member believes it’s important.”

Barnett said he also is proud that Ludington Police Department, along with the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, and local fire departments have improved efforts to patrol waterways and to perform water rescues and recoveries.

“But, I am most proud of the community policing perspective that our officers have and that they understand that the relationship with the community is important,” Barnett said. “It’s very valuable that we, as police officers, are trying to solve problems for people, finding solutions rather than just solving crimes.”

Barnett used the examples of the Ludington Skate Plaza and Movies in the Park as examples. The chief was instrumental in starting both those projects and continues to serve on the Movies in the Park committee.

“We didn’t want to be the agency that was always telling people that they couldn’t do something, such as skate boarding. But, rather than skateboarders being on businesses’ private property, we provided them with an alternative by raising money and building a skate park with one of the best views in the state. It’s a good, positive place to do that sport.

“Movies in the Park have provided a place for friends and neighbors to meet for inexpensive, wholesome entertainment. It is a great example of bringing our community together.”

Barnett said Ludington has become his home and he and his wife, Lisa, have no plans to leave.

“This town has been very welcoming to Lisa and I and our kids. When we moved her, it was the middle of the school year for our kids. My kids were in 11th, eighth, and sixth grade. They very quickly made friends and I have no doubt that each one now considers Ludington home.”

Barnett said he doesn’t know his exact plans for retirement.

“Whatever God leads us to do is the bottom line,” he said. “We certainly plan on spending time with our grandchildren and children along with my parents.”

Ludington was incorporated as a city in 1873. From 1873 until 1916 the city’s law enforcement was handled by marshals. The 1916 charter established a police department.

Marshals:

  • John Davidson, 1873
  • George Weimer, 1880 to 1883 (3 years)
  • William Kennedy, served until 1887
  • L.H. Young, served until 1899
  • Ole Anderson, 1900 to 1908 (8 years)
  • William McGuire, 1909 to 1916 (7 years)

Police department established following 1916 charter.

Chiefs:

  • William McGuire, 1916 to 1919 (3 years, 10 years total).
  • Timothy Barber, 1919 to 1950 (31 years)
  • Fred Nankee, 1950 to 1962 (12 years)
  • Harold Mehl, 1962 to 1973 (11 years)
  • William Hartley, 1973 to 1979 (6 years)
  • Jack Harper, 1979 to 1989 (10 years)
  • Wally Taranko, 1990 to 2001 (11 years)
  • Mark Barnett, 2001 to 2020 (19 years)

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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