November 6, 2009 - Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Police Chief Sterling Owen today named Officer Timothy Thornton, Officer Brian Bell and Officer Preston Whillock as the July Officers of the Month. All three officers have been with the department since June 2006. Officer Whillock was previously an Officer of the Month and Life Saving Award recipient in 2007.
Chief Owen said the three officers developed a strategic enforcement plan to address what appeared to be a recent rise in vehicle burglaries in the downtown area. Using data compiled by the Crime Analysis Unit, the officers determined the best locations to implement their plans. A potential suspect had also been identified due to evidence recovered from a previous car burglary.
Chief Owen said, “The three officers, working on their day off, began their operation at 6:00 p.m. on July 21. The officers positioned themselves in a location that allowed for an overview of a parking lot in the Old City. Their attention was quickly drawn to a male who was aggressively panhandling in the parking lot.”
Within minutes, the panhandler moved his attention to vehicles in the parking lot. He then focused on a decoy vehicle the officers had placed in the parking lot. After shaking the door handles of the vehicle, the suspect picked up a large rock, shattered the window, and began removing items from the vehicle. The officers approached the suspect who attempted to flee on foot. The suspect, John Hodson (DOB 8-22-66), was taken into custody and was charged with Criminal Trespassing, Theft over $1,000.00 (felony), Vehicle Burglary (felony), and Fleeing and Resisting Arrest.
After booking Hodson, the officers continued with their operation. Within minutes the officers located an individual that had been identified as a suspect in a previous burglary. That suspect, Alfred Cole (DOB 7-5-77), was detained for questioning and was charged with four previous vehicle burglaries.
Chief Owen said, “In just a few hours, these officers were able to remove two serious prolific criminals from the downtown area.”
Mayor Haslam said, “We applaud the efforts of these officers and commend them for their outstanding actions in removing these criminals from our streets.”