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Police: City employee involved in mentor program, accused of inappropriate relationship with child

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Police Department said Wednesday afternoon that a school resource officer assigned to Jones High School was notified Tuesday about an alleged inappropriate relationship involving an adult and a child.

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“It’s shocking to me,” said Annette Gayle who was picking up her grandson from Jones High School Wednesday.

“It’s sad and it feels like it’s happening more often,” said Shirley Cooper who we spoke to as she was leaving Jones High School.

“That’s crazy man. The world we live in is crazy,” said Shakeel Irvy, who was also leaving the school Wednesday afternoon.

Read: Police: City worker assigned to Orlando school accused of inappropriate relationship with child

Police said the suspect, Darius Barker, is employed by the city of Orlando through the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative and is assigned to Orange County Public Schools’ Academic Center for Excellence (K-8).

“My Brothers Keeper” is a national initiative that was adopted by the City of Orlando. It’s a mentorship program which “aims to improve academic performance, increase employment, and reduce incarceration among the city’s most disadvantaged communities,” according to the city’s website.

Investigators said Barker was a former Orlando Police Department officer who was assigned as a school resource officer at Jones High School.

Read: Prior to fatal officer-involved shooting, police respond suspect’s neighborhood over 40 times

In July 2022, Barker resigned while under investigation in lieu of termination for an unrelated case, police said.

OPD said the latest case is being investigated by its Special Victims Unit.

The agency said it has notified OCPS of the investigation, which is ongoing.

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City of Orlando Public Information Officer Ashley Papagni sent us the following statement:

“We are aware of an alleged incident involving Darius Barker that was reported to Orlando Police on February 6, 2024. The City takes any allegation involving a city employee very seriously and will assist the Orlando Police Department in any way with their investigation. Upon learning of this incident today, Barker has been immediately suspended pending the results of the investigation.

Since July 2023, Barker has been a contracted employee with the Families, Parks Recreation Department in the My Brother’s Keeper mentor program at the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) school.

We were disturbed to learn of this allegation, and we take the safety of all our residents and youth very seriously, we have notified Barker that he is currently prohibited from returning to city property or working with any of city programs.”

OCPS also told WFTV that they are cooperating with OPD’s investigation. OPD said charges are pending.

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