BLAINE – It’s just after 5 a.m. Blaine Police Chief Tim Wyrick is on the road checking on the town’s businesses and neighborhoods as part of his daily patrol duties.
As chief, Wyrick wears three hats. He not only goes on patrol, he investigates criminal activity and also has administrative duties. He leads a seven-man force of full-time and part-time officers.
Wyrick heads up Rutledge Pike toward the Knox County line. He will cruise through the parking lots of businesses to ensure that everything is in order. There is a two-hour gap between the time the night officer goes off duty and Wyrick comes on.
A lot of the job is routine, but it is something he has aimed for since he was a teenager.
“My father was in law enforcement. That attracted me to the job. I wanted to help people and make a difference,” Wyrick said.
He began working in jails in 2006. The first stop was at Grainger County Jail and later at Union County, where he had grown up. But it was not his cup of tea.
“I got tired of babysitting adults,” he said.
He took a couple of jobs outside law enforcement, but never gave up on his first love. He worked briefly at Hallsdale-Powell Utility District and later for Direct TV.
“Then I put myself through the police academy at Walters State Community College in 2010,” he said.
He started as a school resource officer in Knox County. He got his first full-time job as an officer in the Maynardville Police Department in 2014.
In 2016, then Mayor Patsy McElhaney hired him part-time on the Blaine force. He went full-time in February 2018.
“I was appointed chief in November 2018, the night Marvin Braden was sworn in as mayor,” he said.
Daylight is breaking and Wyrick begins to patrol Rutledge Pike again. He is watching for school buses and also for drivers who may be speeding or passing stopped buses. That task is completed by about 7 a.m. and the time has passed without incident.
Suddenly Wyrick wheels his cruiser around to pursue a speeder. The driver soon pulls over and he goes to talk to him. He runs a driver’s license check and also an NCIC check to make sure there are no outstanding warrants. After receiving a negative report, Wyrick returns the license, gives the driver a warning and sends him on his way.
He explained his philosophy for dealing with people in these situations.
“You have to be courteous and professional and have a good attitude. Attitude is the key,” he said. “Sometimes they try to get a rise out of you. Treat them courteously and that makes them even madder.”
Occasionally, he encounters someone who is not in a good mood, and it’s likely to cost them.
A short time later, he is in pursuit again. The driver turns off at Milligan Lane and stops. Following his usual procedure, Wyrick approaches the vehicle. This one may not go as smoothly, at least from the driver’s perspective.
He returns to his cruiser to run the license check and describes the brief encounter.
“She said, ‘Just give me the damn ticket,’” he said. Her excuse was that she needed to get home to the bathroom. He pointed out there were several places she could have stopped along the way.
The driver got her wish. He wrote out the citation and handed it to her.
“Be careful what you ask for,” Wyrick said.
The seven traffic stops the chief made during his 10-hour shift were routine, but Wyrick said an officer can never assume that.
“You can never be complacent. You must always be on guard. We know officers potentially face threatening situations every day. The day you show up complacent is the day you’ll have trouble. You have to be cautious, whether you know them or not.”
Wyrick said he has had occasion to draw his weapon, but he has never fired a shot in the line of duty.
“Just coons and possums and deer,” he said with a laugh.
With early rush hour over, Wyrick returns to City Hall to pick up a couple of burglary reports. He will spend the rest of the morning in detective mode.
He makes several calls trying to reach the victim of one of the break-ins, but without success. He visits the home, but finds no one there.
It’s on to the other investigation. He has gotten a tip that some of the stolen goods are at a residence in another county. He hits the road in an unmarked vehicle to check it out.
Arriving at the address he was given, he doesn’t find much. He spots something on the front porch and snaps a photo with his phone. Then it’s back to Blaine for more patrol duty.
He tours the neighborhoods and points out a few places where there has been drug activity.
“Absolutely, drugs are the biggest problem we face here. There used to be a lot of meth houses in Grainger County, but no more,” he said.
That may be a mixed blessing.
“Heroin, cocaine, meth and fentanyl are being manufactured out of the country and brought in. There’s not much a seven-man police department can do about that. We have to try to control distribution and use,” he said.
He also addressed the anti-police sentiment that is plaguing many of the larger cities in the nation.
“There are bad cops, just as there are bad people,” he said. “They want to defund the police department over the actions of a few. How does that change anything?”
He added that it is discouraging to see mayors and other government leaders who do not support their own officers.
“If I was in a big city, it might be hard to come to work every day,” he said.
But he quickly added those are not issues he must deal with in Blaine. He said he has great support from both the public and administration. A small example of public support happened as the end of the day approached while he patrolled one of the city’s neighborhoods. A resident standing in her driveway waved him over. He rolled down the window, not sure what to expect.
Not to worry. She was just offering him some okra and cucumbers from her garden.
There is now about an hour left on his shift and his week. He will return to City Hall to tend to any administrative issues that require his attention.
He will then go home to be with his family for a few days. He will also coach a little youth football, an activity that permits him to put crime on hold for a while.