Statements from Mayor Rogero and Chief Thomas in July 18, 2019 Media Briefing

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Statements from Mayor Rogero and Chief Thomas in July 18, 2019 Media Briefing

Posted: 07/18/2019
KPD Press Event Below are the full statements given by Mayor Madeline Rogero and Chief Eve Thomas during the July 18, 2019 media briefing.


MAYOR MADELINE ROGERO

Good afternoon, and thank you for being here today.

Chief Thomas and I have statements related to the allegations of misconduct by certain Knoxville Police Department officers.

An investigation by KPD’s Internal Affairs Unit is underway, and neither the Chief nor I can talk today about the specific allegations pending the completion of that review.

Once the investigation is complete, the findings will be public record, and we will be able to discuss the matter more freely.

As the mayor of this city, I find the alleged behavior serious and deeply troubling. I lead a 1600-person workforce, including a 377-person police department, who strive every day to protect and improve the lives of those who live here.  

As the first woman mayor of this City, with the first woman police chief, our goal has been to create opportunity for all people – in our City and in our workforce – regardless of gender, race, faith, sexual orientation, and ability.  

It is never appropriate in our workplace for lewd, derogatory, discriminatory, sexist, or homophobic statements or actions.  

This type of alleged misconduct particularly offends and pains me, because we have so many outstanding officers, who every day demonstrate genuine respect to their fellow officers and the citizens they serve … officers who raise the bar, lead by example, and exceed the standards set by us as a community and KPD as a professional agency.

I want to clearly state my support for our police officers and the tremendous job they do. But when individual officers act inappropriately, they have been and will be held accountable. There are consequences for inappropriate behavior. 

I am relying upon KPD’s Internal Affairs Unit and Chief Thomas to properly investigate the allegations that have been made and to take whatever action is fair and appropriate.

Nevertheless, based on what we have heard and seen thus far, we will reinforce with every single member of our team their constant obligation to meet and uphold the values and standards of this department and our City.

I’ll now call on Chief Thomas for a statement.  


CHIEF EVE THOMAS

I want to first express that we take these allegations very seriously. These are concerning claims that are now a part of an Internal Affairs investigation, and we will deal with the findings upon the completion of the investigation. 

We want to impress upon the Knoxville community that the comments alleged to have been made as part of these allegations are not in any way reflective of who the Knoxville Police Department is or who we want to be. We value diversity in our department, and how that diversity is reflective of the community we proudly support. 

I have been with the KPD for 26 years, and I am incredibly proud of the culture we have nurtured. These allegations are not indicative of the department I have served for nearly three decades. The behavior described in the allegations simply will not be tolerated. It erodes the good reputation our department has worked diligently to build and diminishes all the good deeds that our officers do in the community every single day. 

With that, we recognize that as a department we are not perfect. We are human and we are going to make mistakes. We also want to be clear that the behavior alleged is not acceptable, and we will act with swiftness to confront these issues.

Our officers receive extensive diversity training over the course of their career in the KPD, and they are all encouraged to report any individual who threatens to undermine the good standing our officers have built and the diversity we value so highly in our department and our community. Our officers are provided many avenues to address these issues within and outside of their chain of command. We provide those avenues because as a department, we are deeply committed to acting with integrity, kindness and empathy.

In spite of that, issues still arise. And while one incident cannot define a whole city or department, we have a responsibility and opportunity to deal with those issues in a meaningful way. We will begin immediately to improve and enhance training we provide for both our officers and their supervisors. The Knoxville Police Department continues to evolve and grow as a department to best meet the needs of our city and its residents.

No matter how effective an officer is at his or her job, the type of behavior brought to light with these allegations will not be tolerated. It is our duty to assess the role of leadership within our department so that those leading can continue to cultivate an environment that is unyielding in its inclusiveness and professionalism.


Video of media briefing and Q&A is available below from WBIR.com