Knoxville mayor, police chief release statement following withdrawal from agreement to put police in schools

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and Knoxville Police Department Chief Eve Thomas released a joint statement following the announcement of the city’s withdrawal from the current Memorandum of Agreement that puts police in schools.

“The KPD and City of Knoxville felt that it was in its best interest to withdraw from the current Memorandum of Agreement effective June 12, 2021. That timeline allows for the KPD SROs currently assigned to a school to complete the school year through all graduations,” the statement says.

“KPD and City leaders will participate in the discussions with Knox County Schools regarding a proposal to rework the current MOA, while all planned SRO training will proceed as scheduled through the summer. The hope is that those conversations can lead to a solution that works best for all parties involved and creates the most safe and healthy learning environment for the students of Knoxville.”

The statement also says that “A shortage of officers has continued to be an issue for KPD, while Knox County School Security has the available staff to provide the appropriate coverage within the schools.”

Finally, Kincannon and Thomas want to reassure parents that the schools will be safe.

“No matter the outcome of future discussions, the KPD will continue to respond to the schools whenever officers are needed. The KPD has always done that and will continue to do so.”

Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas released a statement Wednesday night:

My priority is to provide a safe learning and teaching environment for all our students and staff, and I am grateful to our law enforcement partners for their support in helping keep our schools safe. I was surprised with the decision by Mayor Kincannon and Chief Thomas to withdraw from the MOA at the end of this school year; however, I am grateful that they are willing to have further conversations about it. We will also be having more discussion regarding the MOA with our Board, which has expressed a desire to get community input, something that I support.

Bob Thomas, superintendent, Knox County Schools

Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler also weighed in on the issue, saying his deputies will continue to serve in schools.

I’m releasing a statement at this late hour in response to the many calls, emails and requests I’ve received this evening in reference to officers being pulled from some Knox County Schools.  I took an oath to protect all Knox County Citizens.  I will abide by that oath as will our Deputies.  We will continue to protect our most vulnerable, which is our children.  I am NOT pulling any of our Deputies out of any Knox County School that we are currently in.

Tom Spangler, Sheriff, Knox County

Meetings to rework the memorandum of agreement that places police in schools are expected to be held later this year.

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