By Matt Agorist
Edwardsville, IL — A veteran police officer of more than 20 years has been charged with a slew of felonies after being caught burglarizing homes and businesses while on duty.
According to BND.com, Officer Brian Barker, 41, of Moro was initially charged with burglary, a Class 2 felony, and official misconduct, a Class 3 felony. He was accused of entering Reality Salon and Spa in Edwardsville on Sunday and stealing money from the register while on duty.
Prosecutors since have added another 12 charges: 10 counts of burglary, targeting Edwardsville businesses since 2012; one count of residential burglary of a home in Moro, a Class 1 felony; and one count of aggravated possession of stolen firearms, a Class X felony.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said Barker was found in possession of seven stolen firearms, which had been stolen from individuals and from businesses.
When the owners of the salon reported the burglary to the Edwardsville police department, instead of sweeping it under the rug, actually handed the case over to another department for an independent investigation.
Gibbons said the situation was “really awful.” He was not sure how long Barker has been a police officer, but believed it was at least 20 years.
“We put all this trust, faith and power in police officers, but with that comes gigantic stresses,” he said. “When they breach that trust, it’s so much worse … The magnitude of this breach of public trust necessitates a very harsh penalty, and we will be seeking prison time.”
Edwardsville is a town of only 24,000 people, and their police department is not very large, however this type of corruption in the Edwardsville PD, is not isolated.
According to BND.com, this corruption is only the latest in a series of problems at the Edwardsville Police Department.
Last year, another 15-year veteran officer pleaded guilty to a felony count of unauthorized recording after he was caught videotaping women at a tanning salon with his department cellphone. He received a sentence of probation and lost his police pension.
Earlier in 2013, former police chief James Bedell pleaded guilty to four counts of embezzlement and theft after he was caught stealing more than $138,000 from city towing fees to support his gambling habit. Bedell is currently serving a sentence of 18 months in federal prison.
Edwardsville chief Jay Keevan said the department was “blindsided” by the allegations. “We feel like we’ve been kicked in the gut,” he said. “It was a complete shock. I hate the fact that many officers are going to be suspect now, just for the fact that they’re a police officer. The victims are across the board: the families, the victims of the crimes, the police department, the community as a whole… Nobody wins.”
Via:: Free Thought Project