February 2, 2007 - Knoxville Mayor Bill
Haslam and Police Chief Sterling Owen named Lieutenant Gene Sasscer
the Officer of the Month for November. Lt. Sasscer has been with
the department since November 1979.
Chief Owen said that on October 26, 2006 at approximately 4:16 a.m.,
Lt. Sasscer responded to a suspected vehicle burglary in progress
at an apartment complex on McNabb Street. When Lt. Sasscer arrived
on the scene he located two suspects attempting to change a tire
on a Ford Thunderbird that was discovered to be a stolen vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle, 18-year-old Joel Vargas, has an extensive
history of burglaries that have been committed throughout the city.
The 16-year-old male passenger was in state's custody.
search of the stolen vehicle revealed numerous stolen credit cards
and several car stereos that had been stolen from multiple vehicles.
Both suspects were also in possession of Hydrocodone pills as well
as burglary tools.
Chief Owen said, "Lt. Sasscer called in an investigator to
conduct an interview with the suspects. That interview resulted
in a confession from Vargas on several of the vehicle burglaries
in addition to the theft of the Ford Thunderbird."
Vargas was charged with eight counts of burglary, one count of theft,
simple possession, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Three days later, Lt. Sasscer conducted a traffic stop on a suspected
drunk driver. The traffic stop occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m.
on Linden Avenue. The driver of the 1998 Dodge Ram van, 32-year-old
Eric Gillette, was intoxicated and was arrested for Driving Under
the Influence (DUI). A search of the suspect produced a plastic
bag containing 156 tablets of Ecstasy. A satchel was also discovered
in his vehicle that contained $11,210.00 in cash. Gillette has a
significant history of illegal drug sales.
Chief Owen said, "Lt. Sasscer's dedication and leadership routinely
produces excellence which has the residual effect of inspiring his
officers to do the same. Lt. Sasscer has high expectations of his
squad, but has an even higher threshold of excellence from his own
Mayor Haslam said, "Lt. Sasscer is consistent in his leadership
efforts and we commend him on a job well done."
Lt. Sasscer will receive a signed certificate from the Mayor and
Chief along with a free dinner from Ruby Tuesday Restaurant.