Northampton Police Officer Kenneth Kirchner returns to duty after more than two years recovering from injury

Last modified: Monday, April 07, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — When Northampton Police Officer Kenneth Kirchner injured his knee while trying to break up a bar fight, there was talk he would have to leave the career he loves.

Fifteen surgeries and 31 months later, Kirchner is back on the job and — with a doctor’s approval — and will head out on patrol next week, he said.

Kirchner, who has been on the force for seven years, said the news he would be able to return to patrol was the best he could have received.

“Honestly, this is always what I wanted to be, always,” he said.

Kirchner was injured outside of Tully O’Reilly’s at the corner of Pearl and Pleasant streets on May 23, 2011, and thought, at first, he had some minor tearing and strains to his left knee.

As the first surgeries proved ineffective, the extent of the damage was discovered through more examinations, he said.

The possibility of having to leave the job was a frequent topic as his surgeries and recoveries continued, he said.

“That was always brought up,” he said. “That I’d have to look at retirement.”

Josh Wallace, Kirchner’s co-worker and the president of the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers union, said Kirchner’s resilience and return to duty was a great morale booster for the police department.

Kirchner said his first day back to work, Thursday, was like being “a kid in a candy store.”

“It’s a great place to work, these people are like a family,” he said.

Bob Dunn can be reached at


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