Chief Constable Alan Pughsley made the gesture at a community event of more than 50 people last week in Gravesend.
He is thought to be the first top-ranking officer to ‘take the knee’ since Black Lives Matter protests erupted following the death of black suspect George Floyd who died in police custody in Minnesota.
The death resulted in protests across the UK last weekend, including a rally in Tunbridge Wells which saw hundreds of people march from the town centre to Calverley Grounds.
The gesture of taking the knee was started in 2016 by US athletes who have used it as a symbol of protest against police brutality.
Following the event last Thursday, Mr Pughsley, who has been in the £200,000-a-year role since 2014, explained his motivation.
He said: “It was important to me, for us, to take part in this show of solidarity.
“We at Kent Police stand with all those who are horrified at the manner in which George Floyd lost his life. It is right there is accountability and justice should follow. I am fortunate to lead a force whose officers share my passion and pride in policing.”
However, Mr Pughsley, has come in for some heavy criticism for the gesture from residents, including retired police officers, with some calling for his resignation.
Nick Scott took to Twitter and said: “As a retired Kent Police Officer I’m ashamed by the actions of this current Chief Constable.”
Another former officer said the gesture ‘brought shame upon the police service’ while others insisted the Chief Constable should resign.
However, Kent Police has defended the move.
In a statement, Deputy Chief Officer Ian Drysdale said: “We understand the depth of feeling from people around the world following the abhorrent death of George Floyd in America.
“We stand beside those who are horrified by the manner in which he died, and it is important that accountability and justice follow.
“Our officers have spent years building lasting relationships with our diverse communities and it is only natural they should want to show their respects.
“We all lead by example and treat everybody with fairness, respect and dignity, irrespective of who they are.
“Taking the knee is an act of humility and officers are supported in doing this where appropriate and safe to do so, without compromising on the service we provide to the public.
“Kent Police has been making contact with various diverse communities which make up the county, to provide reassurance and listen to their concerns following the protests in the wake of this tragic death.
“It is vital we maintain the trust and confidence that we believe our communities in Kent have in us as a police force.
“As part of that reassurance and in line with duties and key responsibilities as essential workers, the Chief Constable and other officers have attended some events in person.
“During attendance, social distancing measures have been adhered to wherever possible, and where those measures have not been possible, health and hygiene precautions have been taken.”