KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knoxville Police Commissioner Eve Thomas is nearing the end of her term of service. She is retiring on May 1 after nearly 30 years as a Knoxville police officer.
Tuesday was the last day Thomas will sit at the table during a city council meeting. She was honored with a resolution and Mayor Indya Kincannon declared April 19 “Eve Thomas Day”.
“You (Thomas) were always available to talk about any issues that came up. I just want to thank you for your service and everything you’ve done,” Vice Mayor Andrew Roberto said.
Several other council members expressed their appreciation for Thomas during Tuesday’s meeting, as did the mayor.
“I’m glad to have had you by my side during a challenging time in our community, and truly grateful for all you have done for our city and our police department,” Thomas said.
Thomas began serving as Knoxville’s first female police chief in 2018. She began her law enforcement career with KPD in 1993 after 11 years as a retail manager.
“I remember sitting in the seats in the recruit academy and thinking, ‘What have I done? I took a huge pay cut for that and I don’t know what I’m doing here,'” said Thomas. “But it became my niche. It became something I loved almost every day. We have tough days, but every day we have the chance to make a difference.”
Prior to his election to chief, Thomas served as a sergeant, lieutenant, captain, commander of the Patrol Division’s Eastern District, commander of the KPD’s internal affairs unit, and deputy chief.
Throughout her tenure in law enforcement, Thomas always had the quote from Dr. Seuss: “We can and we must do better” on himself.
“I always remembered that and thought no matter how good we are, we can always do better. We must try to do better. dr Seuss is very simple, but that’s my hero. Him and Pat Summitt.”
Under Thomas’ direction, a co-responder program began, recruitment efforts increased, and the police department began using body-worn cameras.
“Body-worn cameras were something we’d been looking at for six or eight years, and it was a budget issue,” Thomas said. “And so the time was right, the mayor figured it out and we sold it to the city council, so I think it was a win all round. It’s not a panacea. There are still times when the body cameras don’t show up or get a good angle, but it’s a huge tool for us. And it’s not just a community transparency tool for us, it’s also a training tool for us.”
After retirement, Thomas plans to do some traveling and relax with her family, but there are some things that are allotted to her.
“I’ve got a long honey do list from my husband, so I’ll work on some of those projects, then I’ll get back into it and decide what I want to do when I grow up.”
Thomas has no plans to seek political office. She says she is very grateful to everyone who has invested and supported her over the years.
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