Proud to have served as Badge No. 1: Easthampton officer retires after 34 years

  • Easthampton Police Officer Kyle Kinlock just retired as the city’s most senior patrol officer. His daughter, Kalyn, plans to follow in his footsteps. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Officer Kyle Kinlock, who has retired after nearly 34 years in the Easthampton Police Department, is seen in the early days of his career. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/15/2020 11:17:45 PM
Modified: 1/15/2020 11:16:55 PM

EASTHAMPTON — What Officer Kyle Kinlock, 54, who retired this month from the Easthampton Police Department after more than three decades, liked most about his job was pretty simple: helping people.

“If you can save one life, that’s pretty cool, right?” he mused. “Usually, in 34 years, you probably save a few.”

As it turns out, he may not be the last Kinlock to serve the city, as his 19-year-old daughter, Kalyn, wants to follow in her father’s footsteps.

“He’s the reason I want to be a police officer,” she said, even though being the daughter of a police officer hasn’t been easy. “You never know if they’re going to come home,” she said.

Kinlock retired as badge No. 1, the most senior patrol officer in the department, a distinction he has enjoyed since 2013. He said he never sought a promotion.

“I never wanted to go up the ladder,” Kinlock said. “I just wanted to work alongside everybody and not be above anybody.”

Kinlock started off as an auxiliary police officer in the spring of 1986 before becoming a special police officer that same year. The next year, he became a provisional police officer, and he became a full police officer in 1993.

His daughter’s career interest aside, Kinlock doesn’t come from a law enforcement family. His father was a carpenter and builder of log homes, a business Kinlock helped out with himself. At one time, this work took Kinlock to Israel, where he and his father trained people to build log homes.

Even after he became a full police officer, Kinlock said, he still helped his father out.

His parents weren’t supportive of his decision to go into law enforcement, he said — one reason he’s supporting his daughter’s choice.

“I know how that felt,” he said. “I wouldn’t do that to her.”

Kalyn is enrolled at Holyoke Community College and is working on a criminal justice degree. After that, she said, she would like to serve in Easthampton. And although her father was content to stay a patrol officer, she has other plans.

“I want to be a chief someday,” Kalyn said. “I’m going to start at the bottom and work to the top.”

The Kinlocks have a connection with the department’s current chief, Robert Alberti. Kalyn refers to Alberti as “Uncle Bob,” as both he and her father were once married to sisters.

On Kalyn’s ambition to become a police chief Alberti said, “I think that’s fantastic.” He wryly noted, however, that it “takes quite the person to endure the chief’s job.”

Alberti has worked with Kinlock since he joined the department in 1999. He described Kinlock as a “very well respected” officer, who has always been a calming voice in crisis situations.

“He’s already very much missed,” Alberti said.

Replacing the experience of a veteran officer is difficult, Alberti said, although he noted that Easthampton still has several officers with more than 30 years of experience.

“Typically nobody leaves our police department,” Alberti said. He credits community support, department leadership and hiring practices as reasons for this, and plans on retiring as a member of the department himself.

Kinlock and his daughter now live in Westhampton, where they moved in 2013 after he and Kalyn’s mother divorced. But he said that growing up in Easthampton was helpful in his career as a police officer. “You know so many people,” he said.

He also said he applied lessons he learned from his family being in sales to his work as a police officer.

“You kind of do the same thing when you’re a cop,” Kinlock said. “You’re supposed to take care of people and sell yourself and your product. You are your product.”

In the 1990s, Kinlock was part of a community policing program in the New City section of the city, and he said this really influenced his approach to policing. He spoke about following up with people after calls and building up a rapport with people.

“You’re not out there policing people,” he said. “You’re assisting.”

Kinlock said he thinks the department has a good relationship with the community, noting its coffee and cookout with a cop programs.

“We always try to involve the community,” Kinlock said. “Open door — they’re always welcome.”

While he noted the “fun stuff” of going after the “bad guy” and catching him, he also recalled how an older woman would always call the police when she thought she heard something. They would inevitably find nothing, but then she would ask them to adjust her thermostat.

“She couldn’t get up and do it at night,” Kinlock said. “So, she’d ask us to do it.”

He also spoke to the importance of humor.

“You have to have a sense of humor, you really do,” he said. “For your own sanity.”

In his three-plus decades as an officer, there weren’t many times he had to draw his weapon, Kinlock said. And aside from putting down animals, Kinlock said never had to use it in the line of duty.

“Thankfully,” Kinlock said. “The last thing any cop ever wants to do is shoot his weapon at a person.”

In his retirement, Kinlock has taken a part-time job with the city of Easthampton as an animal inspector, and he still may do detail work with the police department, he said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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