Warfield blazing trail as Kent County’s first African-American female deputy sheriff

Kent County Deputy Sheriff Kim Warfield — a retired New York City police detective and Apostolic pastor with a passion for community outreach — joined the sheriff’s office in June 2019. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — While making a successful pitch to Kent County voters in 2018, Sheriff Brian E. Lewis pledged to increase diversity within the office if elected.

Enter Kim Warfield, blessed with the personal skills and law enforcement background to boost her candidacy in any employment search.

Now she’s a pioneer too — the county’s first African-American female deputy sheriff.

“Several months ago when I had a vacancy occur due to a retirement, I wanted to make sure to fulfill one of my campaign promises to make the department more culturally diverse,” Sheriff Lewis said.

“Deputy Warfield‘s name came to mind and I thought she would be a perfect fit.”

Deputy Warfield — a retired New York City police detective and Apostolic pastor with a passion for community outreach — joined the sheriff’s office in June 2019.

Since then, she’s devoted maximum effort every day while entering a “welcoming and professional” work environment. Deputy Warfield said she’s grateful for the secretaries and deputies who have trained her well.

“As the first black female deputy sheriff — at age 60 it’s nice to be first at something — I hope this is an opening for new opportunities available to those who will come behind me,” she said.

“Delaware can be slow to change but I want to try to do the best job possible so nobody can say ‘We shouldn’t have done it this way, we should have kept it this way.’ “

“One of Deputy Warfield’s strengths is getting along with others through communicating effectively,” Sheriff Brian Lewis, right, said. “This is something that is important when dealing with members of the public, especially someone that could be irate because their property is being foreclosed upon or they are receiving a subpoena to testify in court.” (Submitted photo)

Deputy duties include serving court-ordered subpoenas, foreclosure monitions and lien holder notice operations, along with time spent on sheriff sales, state of Delaware and federal court business.

Having a deputy sheriff resemble the community members they serve is a significant asset, Ms. Warfield said.

“You need an African American at times to talk to people who might not feel comfortable with meeting a white male,” she said. “There needs to be a sense of understanding and communication that goes both ways and that’s when being black can be a benefit.”

Compared to the murders and other violent felony cases Deputy Warfield responded as a NYC detective, serving paperwork in central Delaware is a relative breeze, the Dover resident said.

“Here it’s so laid back, people are so accommodating,” she said. “When you go out to serve a summons or subpoena, almost everyone accepts it and cooperates in the nicest, cooperative way possible.

“Only once in a blue moon will someone react in a negative way. So there’s not much stress when it comes to getting out and contacting people.”

There have been two negative interactions so far — one person refused to open the door and another called Deputy Warfield to scream at her, she said.

“That’s been in just over seven months,” she said with a smile.

Community partnerships

Sheriff Lewis said Deputy Warfield “knows the importance of community partnerships through her involvement with local churches and other organizations in Kent County.

“These alone are important attributes to me to assist an organization succeed into the future.”

Sheriff’s office staff may interact with folks in the midst of crisis and stress — losing a home, facing court actions — and a compassionate approach benefits all involved.

Kent County Deputy Sheriff Kim Warfield has a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, a Master of Theological Studies from Palmer Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Christian Counseling and Christian Education from Faithway Bible College. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“One of Deputy Warfield’s strengths is getting along with others through communicating effectively,” Sheriff Lewis said. “This is something that is important when dealing with members of the public, especially someone that could be irate because their property is being foreclosed upon or they are receiving a subpoena to testify in court.”

Reasons for the hire are vast, and the sheriff said “compassion, adaptability and being grateful” are among them.

“Deputy Warfield has adapted very well and learned the traits of the job rather quickly. She is always thanking me for appointing her as one of my deputies.”

The deputy sheriff appreciates her boss’s aversion to micromanaging while taking a straightforward, serious approach to business. Sheriff Lewis will laugh every so often and is easy to talk to, she said, and is all about fixing situations through open communication.

Deputy Warfield arrived in Delaware on Aug. 27, 2005, following retirement from the NYC Police Department. She had extended family in Milford and eventually her four sisters migrated from Brooklyn as well.

“There were family bets on how long I would stay here before heading back north to the city,” she said.

Using her extensive academic training — she has a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, a Master of Theological Studies from Palmer Theological Seminary and a PhD in Christian Counseling and Christian Education from Faithway Bible College — the now-deputy established a ministry to reach the community.

This came while in the throes of sarcoidosis lung disease diagnosed in 1998. With a healthy diet focused on fruits, vegetables, water and tea, herbs and regular workouts, Deputy Warfield said she now checks out fine with her doctors.

That medical challenge brought inspiration to help others; she now pushes the value of a healthy diet on African-American church members following the loss of her mother and sister to diabetes in 2017.

“You have to eat right to live,” she said. “That’s something that can be controlled but there has to be the inspiration and knowledge provided to do so.”