KPD chief to be from New Orleans

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Paul Noel of the New Orleans Police Department

Knoxville’s new police chief will be a veteran cop from New Orleans, according to news reports from the southern metropolis. 

Deputy Superintendent Paul Noel of the New Orleans Police Department is  expected to be named this week as the replacement for KPD Chief Eve Thomas, according to sources cited by WVUE-Fox 8.

Noel is a 25-year-old veteran of law enforcement and a strident advocate of police reform and ethics.

City officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. 

Time has been running out for Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon to appoint a replacement for Thomas. Kincannon and an advisory review committee have been interviewing candidates and hope to have a replacement named before Thomas leaves office May 1. 

Kincannon’s administration has kept the names of applicants secret through the search process. They have, however, said that a total of 39 candidates from 23 states applied for the post by the February 20 deadline, including eight from Tennessee,  according to City spokesperson Kristin Farley.

Police Chief Eve Thomas.

“I am very pleased with the diverse and qualified applicant pool to be KPD’s next Chief,” said Mayor Kincannon recently. “The application and interview process has been very thorough, and I am confident that with the help of my advisory committee and feedback I have received from the public, we will find the best candidate for Knoxville.”

 Thomas joined KPD in 1993 and rose through the ranks to become the agency’s first female chief in 2018. She has grappled with a record-breaking number of homicides, allegations of systemic racial discrimination, and the daily struggle of managing an agency that’s chronically understaffed and losing officers as fast as they can be replaced.

Thomas and her supporters hope her legacy will be remembered for lower crime rates, better pay for KPD employees, a new building, and an employee wellness program that allows cops to care for their psychological health as much as their physical well-being. 

(See also https://www.hardknoxwire.com/new-knoxville-police-chief-reflects-on-turbulent-term/)

J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at jjstambaugh@hardknoxwire.com.

Published on April 27, 2022.