Oskaloosa Police Officer Remembered

Oskaloosa Police Officer Ian Barnhart

by Justin Burtis

Oskaloosa –The celebration of life for Ian Andrew Barnhart was held Saturday as the community of Oskaloosa tried to find some closure after the news of his tragic passing. Only 23 years old, Ian was found dead, ruled a suicide, on June 18. He had been working for two years as part of the Oskaloosa Police Department.

The main funeral was held in Muscatine last week and the celebration of life allowed family, friends, and the members of the police force a chance to remember and celebrate his life.

The tributes offered ranged from a variety of scenes from his time on the force.

Officer Rogers, who helped train Ian, mentioned how easy it was for him to pick up all of the requirements needed to be a police officer. As the K9 handler for the department, Officer Rogers told a story of how despite not having an entire bite suit (he only had a sleeve on one arm), Ian was willing to let the Oskaloosa K-9 Duke practice on him.

“I finally did get Duke off of his arm. Ian had a big grin from ear-to-ear, this classic Ian grin that everybody knew. He enjoyed it even though it left a scar on him. He eventually got a cross tattoo there.”

Ian Barnhart memorial. (photo by Justin Burtis)

Officer Calhoun related how excited Ian was on his first day. When advised that someone was in the lobby, he walked out and saw Ian.

“I saw this tall scrawny kid, with a big smile on his face. So, I asked him, can I help you? He said I am here for my first day. I said, your first day of what? Work!”

Officer Calhoun got to spend some time with Barnhart on the job.

“He was such a mellow guy, never let a lot get to him. He always kept his cool and I admired that….I always enjoyed seeing his goofy smile. He loved and was loved.”

Officer Sirovy spent a lot of time on the job with Ian during the past four months of Ian’s two years with the Oskaloosa Police Department. He related a story of when they had to respond to a call where someone was over-dosing.

“As I am running out of the back of the house, Ian runs in from the front of the house. He starts hollering over the radio for NARCAN and to make sure the ambulance knows we need it. He did not know I had run out of the back of the house but as he finishes that transmission, I am running in the front of the house with NARCAN in hand. There is Ian, standing in position over the victims nose, ready to deliver it…..we saved a life that night. But it was not a big deal to us. It was our job. There was not a day that went by that Ian didn’t put others before himself.”

“Ian was one of my best friends. We did not hang out much outside of work because, well, I am 29 with three kids. And, Ian liked to play video games at home, and that was just his thing. But when we were at work, that friendship was not only a friendship but a brotherhood.”

Chief of Police Benjamin Boeke offered a couple of stories about how honest Ian was, even when he may have gone a bit too deep.

“I don’t think anyone will forget his infamous car chase where he was so far out of town that his radio quit working. I remember seeing his email about it, basically telling on himself because he was very honest about how he policed.”

“I watched the video and Ian clearly did not know where he was at…he is not from here. I am watching this video, shaking my head and chuckling to myself because I watch as Ian pulls out his phone, lays it on his thigh, and says ‘Siri, call dispatch’, because his radio did not work. That’s how Ian was. He did not know where he was but he knew help was just a call away.”

He also recalled that Ian made him feel old during his pre-interview.

“You can tell that he was young…and Ian was just being himself. He asked me a question. Really not his role, I am supposed to ask the questions. Ian asked me how long I had been in law enforcement. I told him I got hired March 24 of 1997 and graduated from the academy in Illinois in June of 1997. He just looks at me and goes, I was born in June of 97.”

The Chief closed out the speaker portion by telling everyone that while it is painful, this is a time to come together to help each other.

“Our loss of Ian will never go away. The loss does not get easier to bear. Instead it is for us to adapt to this loss. His loss will never get lighter. Instead of feeling guilty or sad, I want you to focus on the hope that we all need to find. And the joy that Ian brought to our lives and our relationships.”

“I am grateful for the time that we had with Ian. For the two years that he was here as an Oskaloosa police officer. I encourage of everyone to start moving forward, in the spirit of hope and healing, together as a team.”

The other common theme that was raised by many was for those who feel such pain and struggle on the inside to reach out to someone. It is never too late and it will never be an inconvenience. Calhoun said, “It is 100% ok to talk to people about your struggles, and it is ok to struggle. Please reach out to help.”

The service concluded with a moving performance from the daughter of Ian’s host family, when he first arrived in Oskaloosa, that she had recorded for him some time ago.

Posted by on Jul 11 2020. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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