Bartos, BV police carry on Muniz's legacy

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The death of longtime Berryville Police Chief David Muniz was a big loss to the community, but the Berryville Police Department is continuing his legacy.

Muniz died Jan. 5 after battling cancer for several years. He had served as Berryville's chief of police for 35 years.

After Muniz's death, Mayor Tim McKinney appointed longtime Berryville police officer Robert Bartos as the city's new police chief.

Muniz's death, and Bartos' appointment as chief, were selected as the No. 7 local news story of 2016 by the editorial staff of Carroll County Newspapers.

Bartos said that he had big shoes to fill as the new chief. After being sworn in at the Berryville City Council's Jan. 5 meeting, Bartos said that he was excited to assume the role but was nervous about measuring up to Muniz's legacy.

"I'm really nervous," Bartos said at the time. "He meant a lot to a lot of people."

Bartos was one of those people. Since joining the Berryville Police Department in 2001, he said he grew to see Muniz as a father. The circumstances surrounding his appointment, Bartos noted, are not ideal.

"This is not the way I wanted it to happen, but it did and we'll pick up the pieces and move on," Bartos said.

The Berryville Police Department, he said, is like family to him.

"I've worked at different departments for years, and I tell everybody this is the best place to work. It's not like going to work. There's a great group of people here," Bartos said

Mayor Tim McKinney had said at the time that Bartos was the only man for the job. When Muniz was battling cancer, McKinney said, Bartos filled in for most of his day-to-day duties.

"He's filled in and done a good job. You certainly don't replace a Dave Muniz, but I think in Robert we've got someone who's going to go on and continue to build what Dave started here," McKinney had said.

Reflecting on his first year as chief of police, Bartos said that the transition has gone really well.

"Everything has gone really well. The department has had a really good year," he said.

Bartos credited a lot of the department's success to Muniz's work as chief of police. He said both the officers and the community adjusted to the change well and have helped keep things running smoothly.

"Muniz built a good department," Bartos said. "Hopefully, we can keep things going well and meet the standard he set."

Muniz was recently honored at the 2016 Law Enforcement Summit in October. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge gave special recognition to those in law enforcement leadership who have passed away this year. Muniz's wife, Linda Muniz, accepted the plaque in his memory.

"The attorney general recognized his community service during his many years in law enforcement," Bartos said. "It was really nice for Muniz's wife and family to see him recognized like that."

Muniz helped create a family-like atmosphere, he noted, within the department and outside of it. Bartos described how Muniz developed programs in the community, saying he hopes to continue doing the same thing as police chief.

"I don't know how he had time to get involved with everything. I'd like to continue that with myself and the department. I think it's important that people see us and that we don't forget where we came from and what our job is," Bartos.

Bartos entered law enforcement in the Navy in 1992. Once he left the Navy, he began working with police departments throughout Texas and Arkansas. He and his wife moved to Berryville to be closer to her family, and he applied to work at the local police department.

"I got a phone call from the chief saying he heard some good things about me from my wife's family, and he said he wanted to talk to me. I got an interview and they ended up hiring me," Bartos said. "I've been here since and I have no regrets."

As police chief, Bartos said he hopes to continue what Muniz started.

"I'm looking forward to making him proud and making the mayor and city proud of what we're going to do," Bartos said.

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