written by Ginny Cooper McCarley photographed by Joe Worthem
t’s been six years since Chief Joey East last drove Oxford’s beloved police car, nicknamed “Old Barney.” The old-fashioned police car appeared at store openings, in parades and in children’s programs for more than 30 years until it finally gave out. “I carried it out to do an opening, it blew up on me, and it hasn’t been used since,” East said. “There’s talk about trying to redo it, but our city shop guy said it would take a lot of money to get it back to where it was safe to drive again.” The car wasn’t originally a police car but a family car donated to the Oxford Police Department in the mid-1970s when Mike Stewart, owner of Wildrose Kennels, was the community relations officer for OPD. “Mike and some other officers painted it,
Behind the wheel of “Old Barney.” OPD is currently seeking donations to refurbish the old Buick Roadmaster.
put an old-fashioned light on it and used it in the community to interact with children,” East said. Barney made appearances at many parades and events over the years, but the car was perhaps best known for its appearances in the Christmas parade.
After decades of service, an old police car and an antique fire engine need TLC. “The children loved him,” East said. “During the Christmas parade I’d always load up with one or two kids. He was very popular.” Barney has had engine trouble before. East brought the car to the Oxford-Lafayette School of Applied Technology several years ago to have some work done on it, but the car now needs more extensive repairs. The police car has been missed in the community. Several people have called the department, asking about the fate of the old Buick Roadmaster, which is currently parked near a dumpster behind Fire Station 4. “We had several private citizens [contact us] who are willing to help raise money,” East said. “There may be a resurrection of Barney, if we can get some private donations to get it back and going.” March 2018 | INVITATION OXFORD
Published on Mar 1, 2018