KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knoxville Police Department has released the findings of a ‘climate assessment’ which surveyed officers and employees about the culture within the department.

Before Chief Paul Noel took charge in June, police consulting agency 21CP Solutions was contracted to interview and survey KPD officers and non-sworn employees about what they think of the department’s cultural climate.

Employees expressed the need for improvement in several areas, including the following:

  • Concerns related to diversity, equity and inclusion were raised across several demographic groups. 
  • Only 32 percent of employees reported that, in their experience, the promotional process is fair. 38 percent did not answer that specific question.  
  • Communications, specifically from those in the decision-making process. Employees reported that decisions are often made that impact them without an opportunity to offer input or receive an explanation behind the decision-making process.  
  • Employees raised concerns that illuminated that the department’s technology infrastructure is disjointed, inefficient and inadequate for a contemporary police department, indicating that the KPD could benefit from dedicated IT personnel as well as a multi-year technology funding plan. 
  • Field Operations officers widely preferred a 10-hour shift over the current 12-hour shift or possible 8-hour shift. 

This climate assessment was a vital piece of my process of evaluating our organization,” Chief Noel said. “The findings from the assessment help further my understanding of the ways that I can best support the members of our Department. Collectively as a Command Staff, we will use these findings as a tool to develop strategies and initiatives to improve employee morale and enhance the culture of the KPD.”

Other findings from the survey revealed:

  • 93 percent of all survey respondents reported feeling respected by their colleagues.  
  • Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents reported that there is a clear process for employees to escalate issues with a colleague or supervisor toward a resolution.  
  • Around 60 percent of KPD sworn and non-sworn employees responded that they feel the KPD provides opportunities for employees to develop the skills necessary to advance in their careers.  
  • Around 60 percent of respondents also reported that they feel the KPD does support a culture of continuous training and mentorship for employees.  
  • Most employees, both sworn and non-sworn, largely agreed that the KPD provides support for the physical and emotional wellbeing of employees.  
  • Nearly 70 percent of respondents reported that they have the equipment necessary to successfully perform their job.  

The assessment consisted of voluntary input from KPD employees, both sworn and non-sworn, through anonymous an online survey and seven focus groups. Around 95 percent of all employees completed some or all of the survey and approximately 70 KPD employees took part in the focus groups, according to the KPD release.

“We wanted employees to be completely honest in their assessment of our organization,” Noel said. “We cannot get better if we don’t have a comprehensive picture of where we are as an agency. The assessment highlighted that we have a lot of room from growth and improvement. We will evaluate these findings, implement them into our larger strategic vision for the department and re-evaluate where we are at in the next 18-24 months once we have the time to implement substantive measures.”  

“It’s encouraging that employees widely feel respected by their peers and perceived that the people within the Department are a strength of the organization, which reaffirms what I have experienced in my first four months on the job,” Noel said. “It’s also encouraging that our people feel that we generally dedicate sufficient resources to the wellbeing of employees. We still have a lot of room for improvement in those areas, but that says to me that we are on the right track.” 

The full 37 page report can be viewed below.