KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) —  Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas is retiring in May 2022, the city announced Friday. Thomas has been with the Knoxville Police Department since 1993.

Former Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero had named Thomas as police chief in June 2018.

“I want to thank Chief Thomas for her distinguished and dedicated service to the City of Knoxville,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said in a Friday news release announcement. “Chief Thomas made history as the City’s first female police chief and has implemented programs that will continue to benefit Knoxville for decades to come.             

“While I have enjoyed working closely with Chief Thomas for the last 2 years, I respect her decision to step aside and embark on a new chapter with her husband and family.”             

Chief Thomas joined the Knoxville Police Department in 1993 and advanced in various leadership roles including serving as a Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, commander of the Patrol Division’s East District, commander of KPD’s Internal Affairs Unit, and Deputy Chief before being named Chief in 2018.           

“I never saw myself as a police officer until I applied for the Police Academy. I was in retail management and wanted to be an astronaut. Aeronautical Engineering at UT, working four jobs, couldn’t cut the grades so got into psychology and retail management,” Thomas said in March interview with WATE 6 News Anchor Lori Tucker.

The city says under her leadership, KPD restructured recruitment efforts, deployed body-worn cameras, and launched the co-responder program; Chief Thomas has served under several administrations and expressed her gratitude to have such a long-lasting career here in Knoxville: 

“I truly don’t have the words to express how thankful I am for my time at the Knoxville Police Department,” Thomas said. “It has been the honor of a lifetime to call myself a KPD officer for the better part of the last three decades.              “

There hasn’t been a single day that I didn’t cherish the opportunity to come to work and serve this great community alongside all of the men and women, both past and present, who have made this department a wonderful place to work.              

“Despite the trials and tribulations, I loved my time as Chief of Police, which is a credit to the men and women of the KPD. I have been inspired by their passion and dedication, and know that they will continue to work with persistence to make Knoxville a better place for all who call it home. 

“That being said, before I leave, there is still much work to be done. Over the next six months, I am looking forward to finishing some of the projects we have started and ensuring that it is a smooth transition to my successor.” 


The city will begin a nationwide search for Thomas’ replacement immediately. The city will also seek input from KPD officers and the public to learn more about the qualities they would like to see in a new chief. Those public input meetings are expected to take place the first full week in January at locations across the city.

Mayor Kincannon and Chief Thomas will hold a news conference at 10:30 Friday morning on the 5th floor of the City-County Building to further discuss this decision and the City’s plans moving forward.

Keep breaking news and weather alerts at your fingertips. Download the WATE 6 News and Weather apps.