Knoxville Police officer builds community trust through listening, trust

Behind the Badge

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Building trust. Many will tell you it starts with communication.

For Knoxville Police officer Gorden Gwathney, he has spent the last two decades building relationships in a community where trust in the police has at times been almost nonexistent. 

“I like to walk. So I walk Walter P. (Taylor Homes) every day,” says the KPD lieutenant. 

For a little under two decades, Officer Gwathney has been patrolling East Knoxville. Walking the streets, and more importantly, getting to know those he has taken an oath to protect.  

“They want you to listen,” Gwathney said. “If you are not going to listen then you are not going to succeed.”

An effort that has not gone unnoticed by those who call the east side of the city home.  

“He’s just that person that they can depend on … they trust,” former Knoxville NAACP President Dewey Roberts said. “Even if the officers don’t live in the community they have to have a relationship with the community. Which means you have to spend a little more time than normal to develop relationships.”

And that is what Gwathney, Officer G. for short, has been doing.

Every day he’s on the job.

“You have to listen,” Gwathney said. “With any human you have to listen. You can’t let it go in one ear and out the other. You have to listen to what they have to say.” 

It’s that approach that has allowed Officer G. to bridge gaps with the community he serves.

“He’s always been a friend to all the people here at Walter P,” Roberts said. “Officer G. personifies what we look for in police/community relationships.”

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