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John R. “Barney” Barnes, Chief of Staff (Retired)

Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office

John R. “Barney” Barnes has over 40 years of leadership and management experience including over 25 years of leadership in Military and Civilian Law Enforcement.

A retired naval officer, Chief Barnes was Head of U.S. Navy Corrections and Programs from 1983 to 1988.  In this position, he was responsible for policy development and inspectional oversight of 21 Brigs and 13 Correctional Custody Units worldwide representing a total of over 2400 beds and 1400 staff.  During this time he was recognized by his superiors as “the primary visionary” for a Navy wide $70M prison redesign/building program which, in 2010, continues to be nationally acclaimed and the Department of Defense model.

From 1988 to 1993 he was the Commanding Officer/Executive Officer of the Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina where he supervised construction of the $14.7 million, 400 bed direct supervision consolidated navy prison.  In 1992 his facility became the first navy facility to be accredited by the American Correctional Association attaining a virtually unprecedented 100% compliance on 448 national standards. As the War on Terror unfolded this facility was chosen from among many Department of Defense prisons as the site to house certain Islamic terrorists/enemy combatants. The Charleston Brig continued to perform this specialized mission into 2009. During 1994 he was employed by a private contractor as Director of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Detention Facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Then, during 1995-96, he was selected to serve as a criminal justice consultant with the bi-partisan Wexler Group in Washington, D.C.

Commander Barnes’ naval career spanned over 24 years during which he logged almost 4000 hours in a variety of combat aircraft. His initial assignment was with the elite Navy Seawolves  the most decorated navy squadron of the Vietnam War. In this capacity he flew 507 combat missions often working with Navy SEAL teams and Swift Boats. His other aviation assignments included anti-submarine warfare aboard aircraft carriers, combat support with Commander, Middle East Force and flight instructor duty. His military awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, 15 air medals, Navy Achievement Medal (Valor), Presidential Unit Citation and various other individual, unit, and campaign awards.

Barney’s non-military awards include the Austin McCormick Award for leadership in military corrections, the President’s Award from the South Carolina Correctional Association, the Meritorious Service Award from the American Jail Association, and the President’s Award from the 100 Club of South Carolina for leadership in local law enforcement. While assigned to Navy Headquarters he served on the Board of Directors of the Luke C. Moore Academy, an alternative high school in Washington, DC.

Chief Barnes served with Dorchester County Sheriff Ray Nash from January of 1997 until he retired as Chief of Staff in January 2009. His principle centered/character based leadership was instrumental in the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office consistently attaining a below average crime rate, high staff retention rate, and in 2008 the highest prosecution rate in the state. During this time Barney was selected to serve as Commanding Officer of the newly commissioned 5th Battalion of the South Carolina State Guard. During his command tour (2003-2005) Lt. Colonel Barnes led the 5th Battalion to achieve a very high level of operational capability and the praise of his brigade commander, as well as, the State Guard Commander for overall unit excellence and outstanding readiness in various major exercises. The “5th” became a recognized model for South Carolina State Guard battalions with innovative training which fully integrated the State Guardsmen into local law enforcement support for normal operations as well as major incidents.

Since retiring from the Sheriff’s Office Chief Barnes has established an enterprise called Eye of the Eagle. This firm is a character-based leadership development resource for public safety and industry. He and his wife Pat were married in 1970 and reside in Summerville, SC.


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