KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Inappropriate. Insulting. Vulgar. Embarrassing. Offended.

Just some of the words that Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas used to describe their reaction to a KPD sergeant's alleged conduct during a recent roll call.

On Wednesday, WBIR reported about a video that showed Sgt. Bobby Maxwell describing in vulgar and offensive terms how a male officer could have oral sex with a female. On the video he could be heard using terms like "choke job" and "pearl necklace".

Watch the full news conference here:

RELATED: Tapes reveal KPD discussions about alleged officer misconduct

RELATED: Veteran KPD sgt. retires, multi-pronged internal investigation underway over officer conduct

He abruptly retired July 1 after his lieutenant, Travis Brasfield, filed a complaint seeking an internal investigation.

Both Rogero and Thomas were limited Thursday afternoon on what they could say at the press conference because of that internal investigation.

What both women made clear, however, was that if the comments were true, it was very troubling and not representative of the culture the department and the city want to represent.

Rogero is the first woman elected mayor in Knoxville. Thomas is the first woman to lead KPD.

Rogero said lewd, derogatory conduct is not appropriate in any workplace, particularly at the Knoxville Police Department, where the men and women are held to a higher standard.

She said she did want to make clear, however, that she does not think the alleged behavior was indicative of the entire department.

“We have so many great officers,” she said. “We give then awards regularly, they raise the bar and lead by example.”

But, she said, if one of those officers acts inappropriately, there will be consequences, which she was relying on the internal investigation and Chief Thomas to determine. Rogero promoted Thomas to chief last year.

“The alleged comments are not reflective of who our police department is and what we want to be,” echoed Chief Thomas.

Thomas, who has 26 years with the department, said they value diversity, and said she was incredibly proud of the culture built at the KPD.

She said conduct such as has been alleged about Sgt. Maxwell “will not be tolerated” and “diminished the good deeds done by our officers every day.”

Thomas said she first heard about the allegations in an anonymous letter June 20. An internal affairs investigation was already being considered when she heard the specifics of the alleged comments either on June 22 or 23, but she wasn’t sure of the exact date.

She said she hadn’t seen the video until Wednesday night, the same night the 10News Investigation aired. You can watch the raw, unedited video below, as it was received by WBIR. It does contain offensive language.

“Stunned when I heard. Horrified. I was deeply embarrassed. Hurt,” said Thomas, who claimed she’d never heard those types of comments on the job before. She said she was hurt as both an individual and a supervisor.

“A slap in the face,” she said. 

Mayor Rogero wanted to make clear that the alleged comments are not just offensive to women.

"We know it exists in the world. It doesn't make it right. It's still wrong, disturbing. Offensive. I was offended by it," she said. "But every man in this room would not agree and find it offensive. It's not just because I'm a woman. Anyone that's a decent human being wouldn't agree with those statements."

Rogero said we need to change the attitude of anyone who thinks it's OK for a man to say that, and that's up to everyone in the community, by how we raise our kids and how we treat each other.

Thomas said officers already receive training on diversity, but they would reevaluate that training and determine what needs to be added.

“One incident can't define the whole department,” she said. “We have an opportunity to deal with it in a meaningful way.”

One fear with these allegations is that it could hurt recruitment of new officers, which is already a challenge for the department.

“I'm afraid so,” said Thomas. “That's why I wanted to address today”

Thomas said it's unusual to speak about internal affairs investigations when they're ongoing, but she wanted to make clear that the alleged conduct is not indicative of the men and woman who serve the community every day.

Thomas was unable to comment on whether any actions had been taken against any officers who are still with the department.

10News has requested the Internal Affairs reports. All of those findings will be made public once the internal investigation is complete, officials said.

"We have rules and regulations and very high standards at KPD," said Rogero. "We'll back up Chief Thomas to hold officers to those standards.

At a meeting of the Police Advisory and Review Committee (PARC) Thursday, two people asked questions about the investigation and the culture at KPD.

PARC cannot comment until the investigation is closed.

Executive Director Clarence Vaughn told 10News he doesn't recall any former complaints about Sgt. Maxwell or other officers named in the official complaint.

"I didn't have a chance to review as far as any PARC cases," said Vaughn. "I know for the main officers who may be involved in the cases I didn't have anything."

He went on to say he trusts KDP to fully investigate the case.

"The process does go through a full vetting as far as the investigative side and also has civilians and citizens give their two points and have an opportunity to discuss it," said Vaughn.

When the internal affairs unit closes the investigation, PARC will address the case.

Original story

Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero are set to hold a press conference at 3 p.m. Thursday following revelations of a KPD sergeant's vulgar conduct during a recent roll call.

The city issued a notice Thursday morning:

"The Knoxville Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit is investigating allegations of misconduct by a small number of officers, including a formal complaint that a sergeant made inappropriate comments and that his actions were not properly addressed by his superiors.

RELATED: Veteran KPD sgt. retires, multi-pronged internal investigation underway over officer conduct

"Mayor Rogero and Chief Thomas, while unable to comment on the specific allegations pending the completion of the IAU review, will announce immediate steps being taken."

You can watch that press conference on WBIR.com and WBIR's YouTube page.

On Wednesday, WBIR reported about a video that showed Sgt. Bobby Maxwell describing in vulgar and offensive terms how a male officer could have oral sex with a female. On the video he could be heard using terms like "choke job" and "pearl necklace".

Maxwell, 57, abruptly retired July 1 after his lieutenant, Travis Brasfield, filed a complaint seeking an internal investigation.

Brasfield alleges KPD commanders tried to diminish Maxwell's conduct and also mishandled another complaint about an officer accused of having an affair with a Knox County deputy's wife.

A segment from the video showing former Sgt. Bobby Maxwell earlier this year
Sgt. Bobby Maxwell was recorded talking about forced oral sex with women during a meeting with officers earlier this year.
WBIR

Last year Mayor Rogero tapped Thomas, who has more than 25 years with KPD, to be chief. Thomas replaced David Rausch, who became TBI director.

WBIR has obtained a copy of Brasfield's complaint, a supplement to his complaint, recordings of numerous meetings at which officer conduct was discussed and also has reviewed the personnel files of Maxwell, Brasfield and Brasfield's boss, Capt. Tony Willis.

Maxwell was a 25-year KPD veteran and US Marine veteran who was involved in a high-profile officer-involved shooting in 1997. Recordings obtained by WBIR show he began contemplating leaving KPD after complaints about his conduct emerged.

Brasfield seeks among other things the immediate removal of Capt. Willis and KPD Deputy Chief Kenny Miller from their command positions.

Maxwell could not be reached for comment. Brasfield, a licensed attorney in the state, has declined comment through attorney John Valliant.

Erland issued this statement this week: "There is an ongoing Internal Affairs investigation regarding the allegations, and we are not going to comment further on the matter until the conclusion of the investigation. As a note, Sgt. Maxwell is no longer employed by the Knoxville Police Department."

According to the city of Knoxville's Law Department, internal affairs reviews are underway as a result of Brasfield's complaint, and they will become public when they are complete. 10News has requested the documents.