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KCSO’s Harkins to retire

After more than 30 years on the force, Knox County Sheriff’s Office Capt. and Town liaison Ben Harkins is retiring.

“I started in January of 1978, way back when. I started out as a jailor,” Harkins said.

Since then, he’s served in the traffic, patrol, narcotics, burglary, support services and major crimes divisions. He’s also been KCSO director of training.

Harkins served 28 years on the SWAT team, 10 as the director. For 14 years, he’s been KCSO’s Farragut liaison.

“I’ve chased down a bad guy or two. I’ve met a president or two,” Harkins said of his time at KCSO.

In 1991, Harkins was awarded the Medal of Valor, the first officer at KCSO to be awarded the honor.

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure I wasn’t the first one to ever earn it, it’s just that we didn’t start giving awards out like that until … during my 32 years,” Harkins said.

“I’m sure officers before me did plenty to earn the Medal of Valor, they just didn’t have the Medal of Valor,” he added.

That same year, Harkins was named Officer of the Year, and in 1992, he was recognized as one of the top officers nationwide in “Parade” magazine.

“It was pretty neat,” Harkins said.

Before joining KCSO, Harkins served three years in the military.

“One of the reasons I got into law enforcement in the first place was I had the feeling inside me, the need to help,” Harkins said.

Harkins said he’ll miss much of his job, but recalled a time he was “fortunate enough” to lead 14 officers in a trip to aid law enforcement in Gulf Port, Miss., in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

“It was one of the most clear times in my career that I was genuinely wanted. … People were just ecstatic that we were there to help,” Harkins said.

“Not that people don’t recognize it, but typically you don’t get that feeling of appreciation from the people around you,” he added.

But Harkins said he also was grateful for his time at Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

“We have one of the top sheriff’s offices in the Southeast and probably in the Eastern United States that I’m aware of,” Harkins said.

“I’m really honored to be part of the operation of KCSO.

“I feel like I have helped some,” he added.

Harkins’ last day at KCSO is Dec. 18. He then will settle into his new part time duties as automated camera enforcement manager for the Town.

“I’m actually already a Town employee,” Harkins said.

As an employee of the Town, Harkins will monitor the red light camera system, providing final review of all violation videos before tickets are mailed.

“I don’t see myself retiring and playing tons of golf,” Harkins said.

He said he planned to travel some, become more involved with civic projects through Rotary Club, of which he is a member, and spend more time with his grandson.


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