‘If you get to live your dream, you do it.’- Darryl Chapman
TOP PHOTO: Law Enforcement Officer Darryl Chapman marked a milestone on Halloween with 35 years in public service. Darryl Chapman started his career in law enforcement 35 years ago at the Campbell County Sheriff’s department in 1988.
By Charlotte Underwood
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Law Enforcement Officer Darryl Chapman marked a milestone on Halloween with 35 years in the career. Chapman currently serves as a School Resource Officer for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, and as the 2nd district Constable in Campbell County. He is also the Dean of Law Enforcement Officers for Campbell County.
Chapman grew up in Jacksboro Station and knew without a doubt from the time he was young that he wanted to be a law enforcement officer. He remembers the moment that sparked that fire to life.
“When I was a little kid, my mom had to call the police. She thought she had heard someone in our basement and my dad was gone for work, so she used one of those old black rotary phones and called the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, and we huddled there till they came. In the end, it was just a wild animal that had broken the window in the basement, but those deputies that responded sure did make a little five -year-old boy feel good, and they made my mom feel safe. I’ve never thought of doing anything else. If you get to live your dream, you do it,” Chapman said.
The 35 year law veteran has had “a colorful career” since his first day on the job in 1988 on Oct. 31.
Darryl Chapman started his career in Law Enforcement 35 years ago at the Campbell County Sheriff’s department in 1988.
Chapman said he was about 21-years- old when he started working for Campbell County Sheriff John Dossett and that he had “learned a lot” from him, including a very valuable lesson.
“When I worked for John Dossett, he told me, ‘politics is police and police is politics and that holds true to this day,” Chapman said.
Chapman has “done a little bit of everything” over the years, working for multiple agencies in Campbell County, as well as the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department.
After starting his career as a deputy at the Campbell County Sheriff’s department, he then was a detective at the Caryville Police Department. He worked “deep undercover” for a while, before being offered a job at Anderson County Sheriff’s Department where he served as a detective.
After that, he was back in Campbell County at the sheriff’s department, working as a narcotics detective. He also worked at the LaFollette Police Department for a while and “did a month” at the Jellico Police Department. Now, he is back at the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department and has been there for more than a year.
He has investigated everything from murders, robberies, rapes, narcotics crimes and basically a “little bit of everything.” He’s been on national TV for police chases, worked as an undercover cop and says that his job is “never boring.”
Law Enforcement Officer Darryl Chapman in 2006.
Being a cop for 35 years “changes you” and leaves “everlasting impressions on you.”
Financially and family-wise, it is a very demanding job. Despite these demands, Chapman is married to his “lovely wife Lisa” and together they raised four kids and now have six grandchildren.
He said being a cop had given him a “sense of humor like no one can imagine.”
“It will change you. You can’t go back and unsee things; it will change you. But I’ve enjoyed it; if I had it to do over, I would do it all again.” Chapman said.
He’s seen the best and worst of humanity and his career has brought him lots of “dark memories”, but also lots of “good memories as well.”
He said the “the colorful part of the career is sometimes a mixture of the bad and the good stuff.” His stint in narcotics was a “very colorful” time in his career.
“It’s extremely rare for someone to last 35 years…The pure amount of death and violence stands out; you learn how violent the human condition is. You don’t forget the pain that you see and how it affects others,” Chapman said.
On the “flip side,” when Chapman puts people in prison and he “sees satisfaction on a victim’s face because they know they got justice” or when someone comes up to him in the store and tells him how he affected their life in a positive way or “especially” when as a law enforcement officer he has a “lasting impression on a small child”, those are the moments “you can’t place a value on.”
“Those are the moments that keep me going and why I do this job. I love to help people; I want to make people feel safe,” Chapman said.
What bothers him the most over the years is the things he “couldn’t fix” for victims. Those haunt him and if he could “redo something in his past, it would be to “be able to fix something for a victim.”
His favorite thing about “being in the police business is helping people.”
The part that he enjoys the most “in all aspects” are the the areas where he knows he has been able to “make the most difference.”
Chapman said he had been able to find satisfaction in all of his different law enforcement jobs during his lengthy career.
“For example, when you’re working narcotics and you get a dealer off the street that’s been affecting a lot of people; that’s satisfaction,” Chapman said.
Deputy Darryl Chapman currently works as a School Resource Officer in Anderson County. He also serves as a 2nd district Constable in Campbell County.
Currently he works as a school resource officer in Anderson County at an elementary school, and the relationship he has with the kids is amazing.
“I was working a Clinton Football game and a high school kid came up to me out of the blue and asked if I was Deputy Chapman from the elementary school. He told me his little brother loves me and talks about me all the time. As a law enforcement officer, you affect these kids lives, you make them feel safe and you protect them at school and they are our most valuable resource; you can’t beat that as a job,” Chapman said.
In 35 years time, Chapman has worked for nine sheriffs and three police chiefs. You could say he’s “well diversified”, but he said he had learned a lot from each and everyone of them.”
Chapman also said he enjoys being a constable for the 2nd district and he wanted “to do more” and is “possibly looking to retire in 2026 in time for the election year.”
“The thing about my job – it’s who I am. I’ve always loved to do this. It’s not a power trip, it’s the opposite; I just want to make people feel safe. I have dedicated my whole life to public service and I don’t regret it a bit,” Chapman said. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 11/07/2023-6AM)