Alumni in Action: Kevin Barnes

APD Division Chief Kevin Barnes reflects on his time at CCA and how it laid the foundation for his current success, as well as his hunger to continue learning and improving.

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Kevin Barnes isn’t done learning. In fact, he calls himself a continual work in progress. The drive to constantly better himself is a welcomed sentiment from a public servant, tasked with serving and protecting the community of Aurora.  

As the Division Chief of Operations at the Aurora Police Department, Barnes oversees the Patrol Division. Well established in his career, he is continuing to learn in both the job he does every day, as well as his formal education. Barnes is pursuing his master’s degree and plans to continue his education and pursue a doctorate. But before he achieved his professional success in a rewarding career and advanced education, his journey started at one place: the Community College of Aurora

After graduating with an associate degree in General Studies, with an emphasis on criminal justice in the early 2000s, law enforcement was a logical long-term career choice, but it wasn’t the first stop on the chief’s journey. Barnes served in the United States Army, and then focused on his family and raising his daughter while working a full-time job.  

“I had to put her needs before my own as far as my educational journey was concerned. I was employed with the Division of Youth Services Correction with the state of Colorado, and at that time, I elected to go back to CCA,” Barnes says. 

Like many young adults who put college on the back-burner while other priorities take precedence, Barnes worked various jobs that would eventually lead him into law enforcement, primarily in youth corrections. But the foundation for what would eventually become his life’s work was laid at CCA. 

“I enjoyed my experiences at CCA. I met a lot of influential people in my life who got me on the course I am right now. I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the faculty who were over there at the time.”

One of his teachers was vital to his journey into the department. He recalls Mike Carter, an instructor who taught criminal justice, doing his best to convince Barnes that a job on the force was his best option. Before meeting Carter, Barnes never envisioned a career as a police officer. He expected to continue working with youth, but he says Carter was “relentless” in getting him to think of changing pathways.

“He was a former police officer himself. To kind of pacify him, and get him off my back, I said ‘ok, I’ll submit my application,’ and the rest is history,” Barnes says. “That is one of the best decisions that I made in my life. I love this agency, and I love all the possibilities that this agency brings.

I love the current direction in which we’re going. We are most certainly a work in progress, but the work is being done nonetheless.”

He credits the spirited discussions in many of his CCA classes for introducing new ideas he draws on. Even today as a leader in the police department, he says recognizing a diversity of opinions plays a crucial role in his ability to work through disagreements that can arise in a diverse city like Aurora, where people of all backgrounds live together. 

But his Aurora pride runs deep. Not only does he work in the community, he also lives there with his family.

“I take a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction in my current role in service to the community of Aurora. I believe if you’re not part of the solution, you could be a part of the problem, so I enjoy the fact that I’m allowed to immerse myself into this fabulous community,” says Barnes.

With the completion of his master’s degree on the horizon, he says he is continually striving for excellence.

“I have nothing but the utmost respect for CCA and everything that the school has done for my current professional leadership journey, and my educational journey as well,” says Barnes.

CCA’s 2024 commencement is now only a short few weeks away, and as a seasoned professional and CCA graduate he shares his wisdom with students who are about to earn their degree. He emphasizes entering the community and contributing to society with their newfound knowledge. 

“Never put ceilings on yourself,” Barnes says, telling students their commitment should drive their success. “It really comes down to your desire and your dedication. It’s all about contributing to society and striving for excellence.”

APD and CCA are working hand-in-hand to create a more robust police force to serve the Aurora community through the new Cadet Program. Students who complete the program will earn an associate degree and a two-year apprenticeship with APD. Upon completing the program, successful candidates will have the opportunity to join the department in a career in law enforcement, with the cost of college forgiven.

Click HERE to learn more about the Cadet Program, and enroll in CCA today by clicking HERE