CHESTERTOWN — A senior member of Kent County’s law enforcement community retired Friday, saluted by his colleagues at the sheriff’s office, courthouse staff and state officials as a dedicated officer whose priority was the community he served.
J. Brian Kirby served the citizens of Kent County with pride, integrity and respect, according to the broadcast from the county’s 911 center that recognized his final tour of duty Aug. 28.
Kirby, 62, retired with the rank of captain in the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. He was the patrol commander and undersheriff, second in command to Sheriff John F. Price IV.
Before joining the KCSO in September 1990, Kirby was an officer with the Chestertown Police Department for six and a half years.
During his career in law enforcement, Kirby also won election and re-election to the Chestertown council and Kent County Board of Education. He also was a coach for Kent County High School’s state championship football and lacrosse teams, and a staunch supporter of all sports teams at alma mater KCHS.
On Friday, Kirby was the honoree at two small and socially distanced gatherings — each time with a cake.
In an outdoor ceremony at the county’s public safety complex on Flatland Road, Sheriff Price, the full complement of deputies, including those who were off duty, and office staff — all wearing masks due to the coronavirus pandemic — thanked Kirby.
Before the cake was cut and lemonade was poured, the sheriff presented Kirby with a retirement badge, a shadow box chronicling the various ranks he had achieved and a Governor’s Citation.
The citation, signed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and Secretary of State John Wobensmith, expresses “appreciation of the expertise, professionalism and commitment” that Kirby demonstrated throughout 30 years of distinguished and outstanding service with the KCSO.
“I appreciate everything you have done. ... We’re going to miss you,” Price told Kirby.
In very brief remarks, Kirby thanked everyone who attended the gathering, with shout-outs to the command staff of Capt. Dennis Hickman, Lt. Harry Kettner and Lt. Stuart Lodge.
Later on Friday, for the afternoon session of court, Kirby responded to the second-floor circuit courtroom on a ruse that he was to provide courtroom security. There, Judge Harris P. Murphy walked out from the judge’s chambers with a cake, followed by courthouse staff.
Lastly, Kent County’s 911 center sent out a broadcast from the first responders that ended with, “Your brothers and sisters wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.”
Kirby and Price had worked together as police officers in Chestertown, and Kirby followed Price to the sheriff’s office in 1990. Kirby started with the KCSO as a sergeant.
When Price won election as sheriff in 1994, his first personnel move was to make Kirby the patrol commander.
Kirby was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1996, captain in 2007 and undersheriff in October 2018. He served as sheriff for 45 days in 2018, taking over administrative duties for Price, who briefly separated from the KCSO to comply with the law regarding pensions.
In an email to the Kent County News on Monday, Price said Kirby had been a very trusted member of his staff.
“As my second in command, never once did I worry about the decisions or the actions of Captain Kirby. His decisions were always lawful and in the best interest of both the Sheriff’s Office and the community we serve,” Price said in the email.
One of Kirby’s signature qualities, according to the sheriff, is you know where he stands and he will tell you.
“Personally, I respect an individual who tells it like it is, and won’t tell you what he thinks you want to hear,” Price said in Monday’s email.
Price described Kirby as a good friend, and said he appreciated all that Kirby had contributed to the sheriff’s office.