(WBIR - Alcoa, TN) Friends, family, and a large number of law enforcement officers honored the life of Alcoa Police Chief Ken Burge Wednesday.
Chief Burge passed away Sunday at his home after suffering from an illness for months. He served as Alcoa's police chief since 2004. His law enforcement career spanned 39 years at departments across the country.
His fellow officers led a procession from the Alcoa Police Department to the funeral home on Wednesday. The Alcoa Fire Department used ladder trucks to drape an American flag across Hall Road.
Blount County Sheriff's deputies and Maryville Police Department covered all police calls while the department attended the funeral.
The burial is set to be held in Fairview Heights, Illinois.
"He brought honor and integrity to the office of the police chief and he expected his officers to have integrity as well," said Capt. Phillip Dunn of the Alcoa Police Department.
Chief Burge got his start in law enforcement right after college in Illinois and then moved to Colorado. That's where he met now Capt. John Garvaglia of Golden, Colorado Police Department.
"I was his first sergeant at that particular time. And we worked together on the graveyard shift," Capt. Garvaglia.
They got to know each other well in those late night hours. He respected him so much that when Burge moved to take a chief job, so did he.
"I gave up what I was doing to be his deputy chief. And it was that bond. I did not hesitate to go work for him," he said.
After serving as chief in three other cities around the country, he ended his career in Alcoa, where he made a lasting impression on his officers.
"He expected his employees to put their families first which endeared him to everyone," said Captain Dunn. "When you've got a leader that says your family is most important that means a lot to the people who work under you."
City Manager Mark Johnson stated in a release, "It is a very sad time for the department and for the city. Ken was a true leader who dedicated his life to public safety and serving others."
Chief Burge lived in Alcoa with his wife, Bettiann.