Freddie Baker closes out 26 years as deputy
KNOX — Sgt. Fred Baker - Freddie - has wrapped up a 26-year career in law enforcement, all of those years with the Starke County Sheriff’s Department.
Baker joined the department in September, 1984, first serving as a jailer, then going on road patrol for 19 years. He also served as Chief Deputy under Sheriff Bob Sims.
“It’s bittersweet. I thought I would be down, but I’m really not. It’s time to go. I’m proud to have served this community. I’m going to take a little vacation and move on,” Baker said.
His last day of work was Wednesday, Sept. 15, but officially he retires at the end of the month.
Baker is perhaps best known by thousands of Starke County teens and now-adults as the DARE Officer, the man who drilled the dangers of drugs into their minds.
He is likely to reprise that role in retirement as local schools do their best to revive the DARE program. He still wants to work, but only part-time, and is talking to Oregon-Davis Schools, which has some funding from the Starke County Boys & Girls Club to revive their DARE program. And Knox is talking to him about reviving their program.
DARE — Drug Abuse Resistance Education — is “the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence,” according to their official mission statement.
Locally, that program faded away with budget cuts in the last few years. Funded in 1983, DARE now has programs in 75 percent of the nation’s schools.