Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch will begin his new role as the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Monday and newly appointed Chief Eve Thomas will take over.
During a press conference today, Chief Rausch looked back on his time in Knoxville.
“I’ll always be a Knoxville police officer, I just have those three letters behind my title.. Ret,” said Chief Rausch.
Chief Rausch became chief in 2011. He says it is hard to pinpoint one favorite memory from the last seven years.
“Seeing the faces of victims when you help them solve their issues is a great feeling,” said Chief Rausch. “Officers thrive on that. It’s one of the good things about the job.”
Chief Rausch and the department have faced several issues during his time. Chief Rausch says one of the toughest issues is the opioid epidemic. He says he is proud KPD is the first department to use Naloxone in the state.
“Let’s do what we’re expected to do in the community,” said Chief Rausch. “That is protect lives. That’s why we’re the first in the state to use Naloxone and deploy it to all of our officers. We saved 149 lives since then. That’s the 149 families that have been impacted. That’s huge, but didn’t just say we’re going to save people, we’re connecting them to the resources to turn their lives around.”
Chief Rausch also recognized that he wasn’t perfect during his time as chief.
“I made some decisions that I thought were right at the time, but on further review, I realized I could have done it differently,” said Chief Rausch. “But I never did anything illegal and never will.”
Newly appointed Chief Eve Thomas also spoke during the press conference. She says she excited to serve the place she calls home.
“Knoxville is a great place to raise a family,” said Chief Thomas. “My husband was born and raised here and we have two teenage boys. I’m excited to guide our officers as we work to engage and protect the community.”
Chief Thomas is the first female police chief in the department’s history.
“Our focus is to try and be a resource for young women who want to come into this profession,” said Chief Thomas.
Chief Thomas says she wants to continue the great work that Chief Rausch has been working on. She says the drug problem in one of her priorities.
“As we crack down on illegal pill mill, we’ve had heroin come in and fill the voice,” said Chief Thomas. “We’re working on charging heroin providers with second degree murder.”
When Chief Rausch has his last day on Sunday it will also mark the his 30th anniversary in law enforcement. Twenty-five of those years he spent at KPD.