Tuesday marked the last day Thomas will be at the table during a city council meeting. She was honored with a resolution and Mayor Indya Kincannon proclaimed April 19 as ‘Eve Thomas Day.’
“You’ve (Thomas) always been available to talk about any issues that are coming up. I just want to thank you for your service and for all you’ve done,” Vice Mayor Andrew Roberto said.
Several other council members expressed their appreciation for Thomas during Tuesday’s meeting, and so did the mayor.
“I’m glad to have had you by my side during a challenging time in our community and really grateful for all that you’ve done for our city and our police department,” said Thomas.
Thomas began serving as Knoxville’s first female police chief in 2018. She started her career in law enforcement with KPD in 1993 after working as a retail manager for 11 years.
“I remember sitting in the seats in the recruit academy and thinking ‘what have I done? I took a huge pay cut to do this and I don’t know what I’m doing here,'” Thomas said. “But it became my niche. It became something I have loved almost every day. We have hard days but every day we have a chance to make a difference.”
Prior to being selected as chief, Thomas served as a Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, commander of the Patrol Division’s East District, commander of KPD’s Internal Affairs Unit, and Deputy Chief.
During her tenure in law enforcement, Thomas has always had the Dr. Seuss quote, “We can, and we must do better than this,” with her.
“I’ve always remembered that and thought no matter how good we are, we can always do better. We need to look to do better. Dr. Seuss is very simple but that’s my hero. Him and Pat Summitt.”
Under Thomas’ leadership, a co-responder program began, recruitment efforts were strengthened, and the police department began utilizing body-worn cameras.
“Body-worn cameras were something we had been looking at for probably six or eight years and it was a budgetary issue,” Thomas said. “And so, the time was right, the mayor got behind it and we sold it to city council so I mean it was a win all the way around. It’s not a panacea. There are still times when the body cameras don’t show, or they don’t get a good angle but it’s a huge tool for us. And it’s not only a tool for us for community transparency but it’s also a training tool for us.”
Post-retirement, Thomas plans to travel some and take it easy with her family but there are some things she’s being assigned to do.
“I do have a long honey-do list from my husband, so I’ll be working on some of those projects then I’ll get back into it and decide what I want to do when I grow up.”
Thomas does not plan to seek political office. She says she is very thankful for everyone who has invested in and supported her throughout the years.