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Bob of the beat set to retire!

One of the most popular beat bobbies in Coventry is hanging up his handcuffs after nearly three decades.

Pc Cornell Barnes, affectionately known as Barney, has been pounding the streets of Hillfields since joining the force in 1990, aged 41.

His final shift will be at the end of May.

Barney, now 66 – and the oldest serving officer with West Midlands Police – has worked hard to keep the neighbourhood safe, earning him the unofficial title of the Sheriff of Hillfields.

He said: “I asked to work in Hillfields. Everyone thought I was stupid!

“Everyone has my number and I try and make myself available to them.

“I’ve been called at 3am and even if I can’t help I’ve got a big gang of police who can help.

“I want to help people, especially if someone is really stuck.”

Barney said he wanted to become a beat officer to make a difference, by reforming troubled teens and improving the relationship between youngsters and the police.

He said: “That’s a barrier that we have to break down.

“We need to get into infant schools and show them our biggest smiling Barney face.

“I’ve done a lot of work in secondary schools.

Barney is one of many great police officers working in Coventry. Three officers won the Pride of Coventry Outstanding Bravery Award after rescuing an elderly woman from a house fire.

“It’s about getting them conversing.

“We get them to try out stop and searches. We say you have a go at it, then they realise what problems we have to face.

“It really does have an affect on their outlook.”

He added: “I hopefully help improve and change their lives.

“They come back now and they say they appreciate what you’ve done for them.

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“You can point a them out to a kid and say what you want to be like, he started out like you.”

Before becoming a police officer, Jamaica-born Barney joined the army aged 15 and spent 25 years serving around the world, including Antarctica.

Barney has been recognised for his dedication to the job, even winning an MBE in 2008.

Last year he received the prestigious Good Citizens award from the city council.

The popular copper also has a passion for music.

In 1999, Barney became musical director for the West Midlands Police Band. He also served as the Drum Major of the WMP Corps of Drums.

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