KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Veterans can be found in all professions. Here in the Tri-Cities, you’ll find plenty continuing to serve their hometowns or counties through work in law enforcement.

One of them is the top police officer in Kingsport: Chief of Police Dale Phipps.

“I joined the Air Force in December 1984 right after graduating college,” Phipps said. He shared with News Channel 11 the reason he joined the Armed Forces.

“It was something I felt I needed to do.”

Within weeks of leaving the United States Air Force, Phipps passed exams and was hired by the Kingsport Police Department in 1988. (Photo: Dale Phipps)

Nearly 40 years after enlisting, Chief Phipps can trace his career in law enforcement to the day he enlisted in the United States Air Force.

“I knew I needed experience, and the best place to get that experience was in the military,” he said.

Phipps said his family understood.

“I’ll never forget when I told my dad what my plan was,” Phipps said. “He was a World War II veteran. He didn’t say anything. He just patted me on the shoulder and shook his head. I couldn’t explain it to him, but he knew what I was talking about.”

Police work began in the U.S. Air Force for Phipps when he was assigned to join the security police. (Photo: Dale Phipps)

For four years, Phipps served in the Air Force Security Police. For much of that time, he helped guard nuclear weapons and B-52 bombers at a base in Shreveport, Louisiana.

“When you’d be on a post by yourself and realize what you’re doing for the country, you approached it as a job but a job that had a bigger impact when you stepped back and looked at the totality of it.”

After the Air Force, Phipps was hired by the Kingsport Police Department as a patrol officer in 1988.

“That was my dream,” he said. “It had come true. I was completely excited.”

In his office at Kingsport Police Headquarters, Phipps spoke about his military service in an interview with News Channel 11.

Since March 2021, Phipps has led the Kingsport Police Department. He said he uses skills every day that he learned in the United States Air Force.

“I have never had one day that I’ve regretted going into the service,” he said. “The pride of serving the country is still there.”

To nominate a veteran for News Channel 11’s weekly series, click here.