KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knoxville’s new police chief has already had to discipline officers in his department, as he nears his two month mark on the job.
Last week, Chief Paul Noel fired Lieutenant Michael Lance Earlywine and suspended Captain Don Jones. It was the fallout from an internal affairs investigation, finding Earlywine lied about a report of a hostile workplace environment, while Jones didn’t follow the rules on handling the claim.
“With truthfulness, there’s only one outcome that can come from that. Once you lose your credibility, it’s very difficult to work in this profession,” Noel said.
The week before that, two officers, Adam Parnell and John Morris, had their patrol duties suspended after they were arrested on DUI charges.
“If we ask police officers to enforce the law, we need to make sure they uphold the law as well. It’s something that was very unfortunate, but those officers will face the appropriate disciplinary action, and this agency, we’re going to move forward,” the chief said.
With moving forward in mind, we asked Noel about his plan to fill open positions and develop leaders within the Knoxville Police Department.
“I’m not taking anything off the table, I really want to be able to promote from inside this organization but I’m not going to limit myself to just candidates from inside. We have the potential to look outside as well. I’m going to explore all of those options. Let me just be clear, I really do want to promote from within this organization, and I will be looking for people to join our team, to lead this organization but to really develop the team concept,” said Noel.
Reducing violent crime also remains top of mind for the chief. He says overall homicide numbers are down this year compared to last, but that the city could be doing even better. That comes, he says, through working with the community. It’s a partnership, Noel added, and something officers can’t do alone.