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Birchfield throws hat into 2022 sheriff’s race

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com 
The old saying is that the early bird catches the worm and for Elizabethton resident and current Elizabethton City Councilman Kim Birchfield there is no time like the present to kick of his candidacy for the office of Carter County Sheriff which will be up for election in the 2022 primary.

“When I got into law enforcement in 1978 it was always my dream to be Chief of Police/Sheriff somewhere and work my way up to that,” Birchfield said in making his official announcement. “Of course, I was Chief of Police in Gate City for three years and that was good and if I never make it, I am satisfied but my goal was to always be sheriff.

“There are so many things that I see over there that I think that we can fix and do better.”

Birchfield, age 60, is a veteran police officer who began his career with the Elizabethton Police Department on July 1, 1978, shortly after graduating from Elizabethton High School.

He attended the Police Academy in Donelson in January of 1979 which at the time made him the youngest police officer in the State of Tennessee.

Birchfield was employed at the Elizabethton Police Department for four years from 1978 to 1982 at which time he went to the Carter County Sheriff’s Department advancing from the position of Deputy Sheriff to a Lieutenant in Criminal Investigations.

In 1984, Birchfield moved to the Johnson City Police Department where he spent the next 24 years in various roles in the department including jail, Desk Sergeant, acting Patrol Supervisor, Field Training Officer, Traffic Enforcement Officer, Traffic Homicide Investigator, Juvenile Court, School Resource Officer, and Hostage Negotiator.

During his years of training in almost every phase of law enforcement, Birchfield attended the FBI Evidence Tech School, FBI SWAT and FBI Hostage and Advanced Hostage Negotiation.

Birchfield retired in 2008 from the JCPD after completing his 30 years of service in Tennessee.

After his retirement at the young age of 48, Birchfield worked as a security consultant at several Johnson City automotive dealers as well as the head of security at another dealer, providing off-duty officers on a nightly rotation.

In 2011, he applied and was hired as the Chief of Police at the Gate City Police Department where he remained to 2014.

After the election of Governor Bill Lee in Tennessee, Birchfield was an appointee to the Tennessee P.O.S.T. Commission or Peace Officers Standards and Training by Gov. Lee which is responsible for developing and enforcing standards and training for all local police officers.

The commission also promotes continuing law enforcement training for full-time peace officers in Tennessee. P.O.S.T. is compiled of 18 members from local law enforcement, legislators, and Tennessee citizens.

The commission develops and enforces standards for law enforcement agencies statewide including physical education, and proficiency skill requirements for both employment and training in addition to setting standards.

They also certify law enforcement training instructors, curricula, and specialized schools.

Birchfield also worked at the Bluff City Police Department beginning in September of 2019 where he remained until August of 2020.

If elected as the Carter County Sheriff, Birchfield has a plan to improve the patrol districts and make the sheriff’s department a more efficient and better place for the employees and citizens of Carter County.

“I plan on using my background, experience, and training to further the Carter County Sheriff’s Department in order to improve the overall performance and to earn the respect of our employees and the citizens to whom we serve.”

In addition to the previous areas of Birchfield’s work history, he has attended training at ETSU, Walters State, The University of North Florida, and North Western Traffic Institute and is currently in senior status at ETSU.

Birchfield is married to the former Tammy Hardin of Beck Mountain and they are the parents of two adult children – a daughter, Jordan Birchfield age 31, and Lucas Birchfield age 28.

He is a member and Deacon of First Baptist Church in Elizabethton as well as a member of the Watauga Masonic Lodge and the Jericho Temple of Shrine.

Also, Birchfield is a lifetime member of the Carter County Rescue Squad, a member of the Board of Directors of the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter, and a member of the Carter County 911 Board of Directors.

He served on the Elizabethton Board of Education and is currently in his second term on the Elizabethton City Council.

Birchfield has already spoken to someone about taking the Chief Deputy position should he be elected and he will be announcing that person in the upcoming months.