Maxwell civilian defender reflects on career

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jackson Manske
  • Air University Public Affairs

Civilian defenders boast a wealth of experience, having diverse backgrounds in both military and civilian law enforcement. Maxwell’s civilian defenders are no exception.

Morris Barnes, 42nd Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant, has nearly 40 years of experience in law enforcement. In his job, Barnes supervises both military and civilian defenders. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1983 as a security forces defender, the career he had always aspired to pursue.

“This is something I wanted to do since I was a kid,” Barnes said. “I always wanted to be able to help people, and I was always fascinated by law enforcement. So, when I joined the military, I requested to be in security police.”

In 2009, after achieving the rank of master sergeant, Barnes retired from the Air Force out of Cannon AFB, New Mexico, and returned to Montgomery, his hometown.

“Once I retired, I realized that I missed the people, and that I enjoyed what I was doing when I was active duty,” he said.

Barnes decided to start working on base as a contract security guard and later joined the civilian defender program. His previous experience in security forces allowed for a smooth transition to becoming a civilian defender, and the required training mostly helped to reinforce what he had already learned through previous law enforcement training.

Having an integrated team of prior-service military, civilian law enforcement, and actively serving Air Force defenders allows for much diversity of thought and experience to facilitate continuous learning for all of Maxwell's defenders.

“I think everybody has something to bring to the table,” said Barnes. “So, not only can you pass your experience on to people, they also bring different experiences coming from different backgrounds and law enforcement, and you can always learn something new no matter how long you've been doing a job.”

After serving 11 years as a civilian defender, Barnes plans to retire soon, but he is thankful to have had such a fulfilling career.

“The feeling you get when you help somebody, especially when you can see it in their face and you can see the gratitude, those are the moments when it’s reaffirmed that I made the right decision,” he said. “I wouldn't change anything about the path that I've taken in my life. I’ve really enjoyed it.”