Alcoa Police Chief Kenneth Burge dies after lengthy illness
By J.J. Kindred | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alcoa Police Chief Kenneth Burge, a 39-year-veteran of law enforcement, died Sunday at his home after a lengthy undisclosed illness. He was 62.
Burge, who served in his position since September 2004, was described by his colleagues as a great leader of men.
“He was someone who demanded a lot out of his officers,” said Alcoa Detective Kris Sanders, who worked with Burge since he got promoted to detective after serving as a patrolman in 2005. “He was someone the other officers really looked up to. He came in at a time when the department really needed leadership, and Chief Burge served as that leader. He was a career cop.”
Burge had been on medical leave since November of last year, while Capt. Phillip Dunn has been serving as acting chief. Officials said Burge went in for surgery on Nov. 29 last year at Blount Memorial Hospital, and had some complications. No details on his exact condition have been released.
Dunn described Burge as “someone who brought integrity and honor to the office of Chief of Police. He managed by example. He was always smiling, and always knew what was going on with personnel and in their personal lives. It was an honor to serve under him.
“You always learn with every chief you serve under,” Dunn continued. “Basically what I learned (as acting police chief) is to listen before you act, and listen to what people are actually telling you.”
Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson, who hired Burge and was also his next door neighbor, described him as not only a great police chief, but a great human being and friend.
“I can say that when I interviewed him back in 2004, I knew immediately that he was the man for the job,” Johnson told The Daily Times while vacationing. “He always had a big smile on his face. He had a smooth and and calming attitude, and that’s what we needed at the time. He proved to be a fantastic police chief, and it will be tough to find anyone of his caliber to take his place. It’s a very sad time for the department and the city.”
Burge was a lifetime member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and previously served on the board for Blount County 911 and also the Fifth Judicial District Drug Task force, according to the City of Alcoa. He is survived by his wife, Bettiann, two adult children and one grandchild.
The family will receive friends from 4–7 p.m. Wednesday at Smith Funeral Home in Maryville, with the service immediately following. Burial will be held in Fairview Heights, Ill., according to the city.