David Quillin has a few weeks left as chief of the Kingsport Police Department, so friends have time to stop by the Kingsport Justice Center and wish him well, or give him a call at 229-9423. At the end of the year, Chief Quillin will close a 35-year career as a Kingsport police officer leaving behind a record of accomplishment and respect.
Quillin is the 14th chief of police since Kingsport became a city 103 years ago. He will be remembered for his unwavering professionalism and steady hand in guiding a department of 180 employees, including 120 sworn officers. A city native, he joined the department as a reserve officer in 1984 and advanced to corrections officer, patrol officer, vice detective, supervisor of the training unit, criminal investigations division commander, administrative captain, and deputy chief of both the administrative and operations bureaus.
During his tenure as chief, the department went through a reaccreditation process, earning a gold standard of excellence. Quillin oversaw a structural realignment of the department to create efficiencies and save tax dollars, created a full-time public information officer position, and embraced social media as a tool for crime prevention and public relations.
He placed a renewed emphasis on cold cases, returned the department to an all navy blue uniform, and established the Law Enforcement Memorial and Eternal Flame at the corner of Clay and Market in downtown Kingsport. He also served as a K-9 handler, SWAT operator, defensive tactics and firearms instructor, and general departmental instructor. He was made chief in 2013.
“We all have an expiration date, and over three and a half decades of being a cop, it’s time to step back, enjoy some things and to do some things I want to do. The department is in a good place, and it’s time to jump off the merry-go-round,” Quillin said. And at 57, he’s doing it at a young age.
Quillin attended three years at Lynn View High School until it closed and was a member of the first graduating class of Sullivan North. He’s a graduate of Tusculum University with a degree in organizational management, the FBI National Academy and Leadership Kingsport. He told us it’s going to be nice to sit back and relax, at least for a little while.
“I’ve got some hobbies, and fly fishing is one of them. I expect to spend a little more time in the mountain streams around here. I want to do some traveling, see some different places around the U.S.,” Quillin said.
“Being deputy chief for 13 years, I thought I had a fairly good understanding of what a police chief did. Until you sit in the chair, you have no idea what the job is like,” Quillin said. “Any chief, to be successful, you have to always do the best you can and take care of the men and women that serve the city.”
His advice to his successor is to “think really hard before you make decisions. It’s important to think things through completely and look at all possible outcomes and who’s affected when decisions are made,” Quillin said. “At the same time, try and be as fair and consistent as you can, don’t have knee-jerk reactions, and always do your best to take care of your employees who do a great job day in and day out.”
Kingsport has always been his home, and that’s not going to change. “I’ve no plans to move anywhere. I’ve had opportunities to travel across the state and to different parts of the country ... but there’s no place like home.”
That’s good to hear because we feel certain that Chief Quillin’s contributions to Kingsport are far from over.
Best of luck, Chief, on a well-deserved retirement.