LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Sir Friendly C Set To Retire - Will Run For Council Seat


Because of his work as hip-hop cop Sir Friendly C, Ray Barker Sr. has been one of Louisville's most visible police officers for almost 20 years, rapping at schools and churches about avoiding drugs, violence and alcohol.

Until Aug. 15, he had never shot at anyone.

With his retirement just 16 days away, Barker fired at a gunman who police say had wounded five people early that morning at a West Broadway club.

Barker, who was off duty and working security at the club, missed the gunman. He fell to the ground anyway, and Barker arrested him. Barker is on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated -- standard procedure when an officer fires a weapon.

Recalling the incident days later, Barker said he was grateful for the way things turned out after spending his career lobbying against violence.

"This was a bad situation, but I'm very glad I don't have this man's blood on my hands," said Barker, 44. "I've spent my whole career saving kids just like him."

As Barker walked his patrol route in the California neighborhood earlier this month, residents greeted him warmly, some joking with him. People driving by rolled down their windows and shouted greetings at Barker, usually addressing him by some variation of "Sir Friendly."

"I don't like police, but he's cool. He's a people person," said Delores Miller, who lives on Kentucky Avenue near Victory Park.

Barker grew up in Smoketown and in western Louisville. After graduating from Jesse Stuart High School, he served in the Marine Corps. He took a job with the former Louisville Police Department in 1987.

About a year later, he created Sir Friendly C. The "C" stands not for "cop" but for C.O.O.L., an abbreviation of "Chillin' Only On Life."

In his songs, Barker raps his own lyrics over instrumental backdrops from the work of popular artists like Nelly and Missy Elliott.

For instance:

I'm the P-O-L-I-C-E. I'm the rapping cop Sir Friendly C,

You wannabe, gonna-be gangstas causing misery,

You're not too bright and you're not too dumb,

Reach for my mic and I'll break you off some,

Education -- I know it don't rhyme,

Educate instead of doing time.

His act was inspired by his experience with his four children.

"I noticed back then (when Sir Friendly C was created) that my kids were where they couldn't articulate sentences well, but they could repeat music," he said. "And I wanted to be a police officer who was approachable, especially with kids."

Soon he founded Sir Friendly C Inc., which works with about 100 students at a time. Each week, a group of about 30 meets with Barker to talk about anger management, healthy life choices and conflict resolution, among other things.

"Without it, I think I'd be in a lot of trouble," TreyShawn Lipscomb, 15, said of the program. "Some of my friends, they don't always make the right choices. When they start doing the wrong things, I just walk away."

About a year ago, some of TreyShawn's friends asked him to try marijuana, he said. "They said, 'Man, you should hit this.' I just walked home. I said I had a headache."

The program is funded by Barker, grants and charitable donations, Barker said. It keeps track of its members until they graduate from high school.

Barker's work as Sir Friendly C helped land him in trouble two years ago. He was suspended over accusations that he engaged in unapproved off-duty work and that he abused his authority by having cars towed from private property. The Police Merit Board overturned the suspension, and the police department is appealing that ruling in Jefferson Circuit Court.

After he retires Wednesday, Barker wants to run for the 1st District seat on the Metro Council.

"At the level that I am at as a police officer, my voice isn't heard," said Barker, who lives in the Chickasaw neighborhood with his wife, Virginia. "I think I know what (the people in the 1st District) want."

Regardless of whether he is elected, he hopes to continue working with children and teenagers. He wants to expand his work and reach out to people in their 20s -- an age group that represents about 40 percent of Louisville's homicide victims this year. Maj. Jay Pierce, Barker's commander, has known him for nearly 20 years.

Connecting with young people "is something we have a difficult time doing," Pierce said. "He made the police seem like real people. He took policing a step further."