Paul Noel has only been police chief in Knoxville for about six months and the department is finding success. He says the decline in most high-priority crimes can be attributed to restructuring the department.
“Overwhelmingly impressed with the men and women in Knoxville Police Department,” Noel said.
The figures show a 15% decrease in murders. In 2022, 35 lives were taken compared to 41 the year before.
“Hope it’s a trend that would continue,” SEEED Knox Chief Operating Officer J.D. Jackson said. “I think with the mayor and the city council voting on Turn Up Knox, which is an anti-gun violence organization, they’re getting into communities and started to have violence interruptions and started getting the community involved to help tackle this problem.”
But those with Turn Up Knox are not the only ones hitting the streets. The decline in murders follows Noel’s restructuring of KPD to get more officers as possible out in the city and re-establishing the central police district in South Knoxville.
“Get them out there,” Noel said. “Get them on the street. Get them visible, but I also think, more importantly, to take many of the centralized resources that we’ve had across the city and put them under the direction of our three district commanders to give them as much authority as possible.”
Knoxville also experienced a nine percent decrease in robberies, a six percent drop in breaking and entering crimes, and a 21 percent decrease in car thefts to round out 2022.
“We’re getting out there working with the community and identifying areas where police officers are needed and putting those officers in those areas to not only prevent crime, prevent crime from occurring, but being able to identify the individuals who are perpetrating those car burglaries and those auto thefts,” Noel said.
On the other hand, aggravated assaults increased by 8 percent last year and non-deadly shootings remained the same at 78 incidents.
“It really shows that we have a ways to go in 2023 and beyond to really working every single day to be able to reduce violent crime in our city,” Noel said.
“It’s going to take a whole community to address these problems not just a few individuals,” Jackson said. “I’m asking the community as a whole, roll your sleeves up. Get involved at some kind of level in which they feel comfortable with but definitely get involved with front-line nonprofits.”
Jackson added it is encouraging to see the decline in most crimes and Noel says more crime prevention strategies will be presented later in the year.
Recently, Knoxville was selected to partner with a new violence reduction center at the University of Maryland where experts will research evidence-based solutions to reduce violent crime. Noel says he is looking forward to working with them.
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