Kingsport Police Chief attends round table discussion at White House

Matthew Lane • Jul 25, 2016 at 3:17 PM

KINGSPORT — Kingsport Police Chief David Quillin gets phone calls every day. From concerned citizens to fellow law enforcement officials to members of the media seeking comment.

Last month, Quillin was surprised with a phone call from the White House with senior administration officials inviting him up to Washington D.C.

Hard to turn down an invitation to the White House, Quillin recently told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Administration officials reached out to Qullin and about 30 other chiefs of police around the first of June, inviting them to the White House to have a roundtable discussion about best practices, challenges and the issues facing law enforcement departments in the country today.

The meeting was held on June 30, with chiefs representing cities and towns from across the country, from large metropolitan areas, mid-sized towns and rural communities. President Obama was in the White House that day, but did not meet with the chiefs, Quillin said.

“I viewed it as an opportunity to see what’s going on with other chiefs in larger metro areas. I was interested in hearing about their challenges and their concerns and best practices,” Quillin said. “One thing I found out is regardless of whether you’re a chief in a city of 1 million people or a chief in a city of almost 54,000, you face the same challenges and issues, just on a different level.”

Quillin said he was asked about community policing in Kingsport and how the department goes about implementing such best practices. Quillin said he took the opportunity to talk about how the department places an importance and emphasis on partnerships and relationship with community leaders and organizations, the public and other departments within the city.

“I learned we’re doing a lot of things right. I also found out probably one of the biggest challenges that we have is recruitment and retention of police officers,” Quillin said. “I believe that’s probably the biggest challenge any department faces. That visit (to the White House) certainly confirmed that belief.”

In a candid moment, Quillin said he has no idea how his name ended up on the White House’s list of chiefs to invite to the one-day meeting. It could have been because of his membership with both the Tennessee and International Associations of Chiefs of Police.

Regardless of how his name came up, Quillin said the meeting was worth attending.

“I think maybe it was a fact finding mission for the White House,” Quillin said. “There was a lot of open discussion among chiefs and some opportunity for White House representatives to learn and hear first hand the kinds of challenges law enforcement faces.”

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