Lloyd Arnold Barker, one of Guyana's longest serving and widely respected commissioners of police, died peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday night after a short illness. He was 68.
Barker's widow, Dorothy, told Stabroek News that he died at about 8.20 pm surrounded by herself and his daughters Beverly Ann, a registered nurse based in Seattle, USA and Youlanda Allison, a student in the USA.
Barker, who was born January 6, 1931, attended Central High School and served initially as a primary school teacher before deciding on a career in the Guyana Police Force where he enlisted on August, 15, 1951.
According to a police press release, Barker was appointed cadet officer on January 1, 1963. He served as commissioner from August 2, 1977 to January 8, 1985, but, the police statement said, is best remembered "for his service in the Interior 'F' Division where he served for nine years and revitalised interior policing."
"His sudden passing comes as a great shock to all of us, family, friends and the Force. We in the Guyana Police Force mourn his loss with profound sympathy," the statement said.
Apart from gaining a diploma in Public Administration from the University of Guyana, and later a diploma in Law Enforcement, Barker, long known for his almost fanatical dedication to excellence in police work, attended several police colleges in Great Britain including the prestigious Metropolitan Police College at Hendon, England.
Barker had under his belt a number of medals reflecting his outstanding career as a policeman. These included the Colonial Police Medal, the Colonial Police Medal for Meritorious Conduct, the Disciplined Service Star, and the Border Defence Medal.
In addition, he was awarded the Order of Officer Brother of the St John's Ambulance Brigade and at the time of his death, he was chairman of that organisation.
Barker was also managing director of Instant Security Services and head of Property Management and Investment Services (Guyana) Ltd. Barker succeeded former commissioner of police, Henry Fraser, who told Stabroek News that he was privileged to work with Barker as "colleagues and friends" for a long time.
He disclosed that Barker was one of the first policeman to be put on the cadet programme after having attained the rank of Corporal.
Fraser said that throughout his career, Barker demonstrated a commitment to law enforcement mixed with an innate love and concern for the well-being of all his officers and men "and indeed all Guyanese", that made him an outstanding police commissioner and human being."
Police Commissioner, Laurie Lewis, who was one of the first visitors to the Barker home this morning to pay his respects, praised Barker's contribution to the force. He told Stabroek News that the former commissioner's contribution to the force was enduring and a source of inspiration to all its members. During his stint as commissioner, Barker was a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
He was involved in a number of civic organisations including the Lions Club where he served as chairman of the Council of Governors District 60, and the National Blood Transfusion Service where he was a board member.
Executive Director of Laparkan and council member of St John's Ambulance Brigade, Vibert Parvatan, said he was invited by the former police commissioner to join the council.
He told Stabroek News that even though Barker had spoken about having surgery, he "was full of energy" and that the seriousness of his illness was not apparent "hence our shock at his demise."
Parvatan described Barker as a gentlemen whose military training gave him an important quality of discipline which he displayed in social and cultural groups with humility.
"He was committed to Guyana and was involved in a number of organisations that were dedicated to helping others and promoting the welfare and advancement of people...," Parvatan said.
He disclosed that on Tuesday he received a letter from Barker in which he shared thoughts on the development of the ambulance brigade.
"Such was the high level of his sincerity and commitment that on his dying bed his thoughts were with others," Parvatan said.
Barker is also survived by two other children, Lloyd Orin Barker, a quality engineer based in Arizona, USA and Lex Nigel, a pilot based in Atlanta, USA.
Stabroek News understands that the police are making arrangements for a wake on Monday night at the Barker residence on Mandela Avenue where the police choir will perform. Barker is expected to be buried on Tuesday.