KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knoxville Police Department is reorganizing its structure. The changes were announced by Chief Paul Noel during a promotional ceremony held Monday evening at the Civic Coliseum Auditorium.
The most significant of the changes according to KPD is the re-establishment of the Central District. This will increase the number of police districts from two to three. The Central District will encompass all of Downtown Knoxville, the area surrounding the University of Tennessee campus and South Knoxville.
“This isn’t changing for the sake of change. There is real purpose and intentionality behind this,” Chief Noel said. “Adding a third district allows our officers to reduce their area of focus, more narrowly direct their efforts, be more proactive and directly engage with the community on a day-to-day basis to solve the specific public safety problems that impact each area of town.”
Another change is that several previously centralized units will be divided up among the individual districts, including the Traffic Services Unit. This also includes the Inspections and Community Outreach Units, which will shift into expanded roles as Community Partnership Officers. The Community Partnership Officers will be assigned to specific districts to help solve problems, address quality of life, and facilitate community meetings.
“I want to empower our district commanders and give them the resources that they need to solve problems within their district, and this change will facilitate that,” Noel said. “Whether it is a business that is experiencing an ongoing problem, a traffic complaint or specific concerns from neighborhood residents, our district commanders will have the personnel that they need to solve those problems as they arise.”
In addition, several members of the department were promoted to leadership positions while other leaders were moved into new different assignments.
“It was important to me that to every extent possible the existing Command Staff members were moved into different assignments,” Noel said. “I wanted everyone to have a fresh start and give our senior leadership team the opportunity to diversify their experience. This will also allow our senior leaders to apply their existing expertise and skills to enhance and positively impact the division under their command.”
The Field Operations Bureau, which was previously known as the Patrol Division, will be led by Deputy Chief Cindy Gass. She was previously the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Investigation Division. Captains Tony Willis, Sammy Shaffer and Nevin Long will serve as district commanders in the West, Central and East Districts, respectively.
“I am ecstatic to bring Nevin, Ryan, Sammy and Steve into the fold as members of the Command Staff,” Noel said. “They bring a wide and diverse range of collective experience, and all four have proven that they are entirely committed to our mission as a Department. I am confident that they will add significant value as members of my Command Staff.”
Newly promoted Deputy Chief Susan Coker will take command of the Investigations Bureau. Deputy Chief David Powell will lead the Management Services Bureau.
Captain Ryan Morrow will oversee the Violent Crime, Property Crime and Forensics Units as the Criminal Investigations Captain. While Captain John Kiely will serve as the Special Investigations Captain. In this role, Kiely will be in charge of the Organized Crime and Special Crimes Units. He will also be the state-wide commander of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Captain Brian Evans will be the Professional Development Captain and oversee the training academy as well as the Department’s recruitment efforts. Captain Don Jones will be the Support Services Captain and oversee the majority of the professional support staff, fleet services and numerous other units within the Management Services Bureau.
Mark Fortner will remain Chief Noel’s second in command as the Department’s Assistant Chief and Captain Steve Still will remain the commander of the Internal Affairs Unit.
“This has been in the works since my first day here, and I am thrilled to launch this reorganization with our senior leadership team in place,” Chief Noel said. “These changes have been made very deliberately with the purpose of enhancing our operations, re-imagining how we deliver our services and allowing us to be more effective in our primary mission of reducing crime and solving problems in neighborhoods.”
The Command Staff members assumed their new assignments immediately following the promotional ceremony, while the newly-promoted sergeants and lieutenants will step into their new roles and assignments on Oct. 23.