New Orleans cop may be next KPD chief

Paul Noel of the New Orleans Police Department

Despite weeks of a secretive review process that let the public know next to nothing about the dozens of potential candidates for the job of Knoxville’s next police chief, numerous sources are claiming that Deputy Superintendent Paul Noel of the New Orleans Police Department will replace Chief Eve Thomas on May 1. 

The development was first reported Wednesday by TV news stations in Louisiana. City of Knoxville officials, however, remained tight-lipped about the status of the job search. 

“We do not have any comment on those reports at this time, but I appreciate you for reaching out,” KPD spokesperson Scott Erland said late Wednesday.

Noel, a 25-year-old veteran of law enforcement, is reportedly a strident advocate of police reform and ethics. He’s currently the NOPD Chief of Detectives and was the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Gary Hayes Award from the Police Executive Research Forum.

Picking the next leader of KPD could be one of the most important – and politically fraught —decisions faced by Mayor Indya Kincannon in her first term of office.

Kincannon has worked closely with Chief Thomas through numerous crises, and the two have come to present an unbroken front whenever there’s been bad news to face.

Thomas joined KPD in 1993 and rose through the ranks to become the agency’s first female chief in 2018. During her term as KPD’s leader, 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. 

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J.J. Stambaugh can be reached at

Published on April 28, 2022.