The county's top policeman today announced his retirement in January after a 40-year career.
Kent police commissioner Ann Barnes paid tribute to his "dedication, professionalism and commitment".
In a statement, she said: "Ian Learmonth has had a remarkable career in policing.
"The fact that he joined as a cadet and is now retiring in the rank of Chief Constable is testament to his dedication, professionalism, commitment and leadership skills.
"During his time in Kent, he has not only had to deal with the pressures considered normal for such a high rank, but he has had to lead the force through a period of unprecedented change relating to the most severe budget cutbacks in living memory.
"Anyone connected with the policing family of Kent will know that he has managed these challenges with great skill and, despite the pressures, has always maintained the respect, and indeed the affection, of those in the force and the wider community.
"Throughout his long service, he has worked to the benefit of many communities across the country.
"As Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, I believe I can speak for all the people of Kent as I pass on my appreciation of all that he has done for the Kent force and the county."
Kent Police chief constable Ian Learmonth and police commissioner Ann Barnes
Mr Learmonth said: "Forty years' public service is a significant milestone, and a good time to reflect.
"The timing of retirement is not an easy thing to think about, but I have decided to do so in January.
"It has been a real privilege to lead Kent Police in the service of the people of Kent. The force has the best officers and staff I have ever come across - totally dedicated in their duty to protecting and serving the public.
"I leave with immense feelings of pride in what they have achieved in my three and a half years as Chief Constable, and to have had the honour to lead Kent Police has been both humbling and inspiring."
Kent Police chief constable Ian Learmonth addresses a public meeting
Mr Learmonth - who was born in Edinburgh and is a married father-of-two - joined Kent Police as chief constable in July 2010.
He began his career with Essex Police as a cadet in 1974 before joining the regular force in 1976.
Mr Learmonth later worked at Strathclyde Police and the Norfolk Constabulary before joining Kent.