KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon on Thursday officially announced the city’s new chief of police, who will replace the outgoing Eve Thomas.

Paul Noel, who most recently served as the Deputy Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department, will now lead the Knoxville Police Department.

He will officially be sworn in Monday, June 13. KPD Deputy Chief Mark Fortner will serve as Acting Chief in the interim. 

“I am excited to get started and to help make sure Knoxville is a safe place to live, work, and to raise our families,” Noel said at his introductory press conference. “Being part of a community means you must have relationships and relationships are built on trust. I commit to you that we will build ties, work to repair broken relationships, and enhance existing ones. At the same time, I understand that your support must be earned every day, in every encounter, in every conversation and in every action. I pledge to you that the time and energy you have invested in me will be returned tenfold.”

Noel began his law enforcement career in 1997, serving in various NOPD leadership positions including Criminal Investigation Division Commander, leader of the Sexual Assault Special Task Force, Chief of Field Operations and Chief of Detectives in addition to serving as Deputy Superintendent.

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He has championed the Ethical Policing Is Courageous (EPIC) peer intervention program developed by the NOPD which teaches officers how to intervene to stop a wrongful action or police misconduct before it occurs. He also assisted in the creation of he Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project at Georgetown University and currently serve on the Board of Advisors.

His efforts in these areas earned him the 2021 Gary Hayes Award from the Police Executive Research Forum, which honors an officer in a leadership role who shows “imagination, creativity, resourcefulness, and initiative in the design or implementation of new approaches to policing.”

“This is the most important hire I will make for the people of Knoxville and I am confident we have the best fit for our city,” said Mayor Kincannon. “Paul is passionate about serving and believes transparency, accountability, and accessibility are key to being an effective leader. “He is also a nationally recognized advocate for preventing mistakes and misconduct by police officers and I look forward to him bringing his experience and expertise to our city.”

He received a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Loyola University New Orleans in 2009. He also attended the FBI National Academy, where he remains a regular guest lecturer.

PARC executive director Tiffany Davidson is eager to see the new perspectives and positive changes Noel will bring.

“I’m excited for incoming police chief Noel and eager to meet with him to discuss in detail his aspirations for the police department as it relates to culture, transparency, and accountability,” said Davidson. “In addition to his plans for helping restore relationshipd between the department and our community.”

In January, Noel was among the finalists for Chattanooga’s vacant police chief position. 

Noel will replace the outgoing chief Eve Thomas, who announced her retirement in November 2021 after serving in the role since 2018. Thomas, the first woman to ever lead the Knoxville Police Department, retires after a 28-year KPD career.