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'I want to listen' | Knoxville Police Chief prioritizing staff and community feedback

Chief Paul Noel said he met with every KPD captain and a number of community leaders during his first week.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Knoxville Police Chief Paul Noel said he's had a busy first week. He scheduled hour-long meetings with every captain in the department.

On Wednesday and Thursday night, he spent 6 hours going on calls with an officer in the East and West districts.

He met with community leaders, like City Councilman Tommy Smith and the Urban Lead Board of Directors. And now, he's scheduling meetings with every lieutenant on his staff.

"Everybody wants to come work for a strong organization," he said. "That's what we're looking to build here."

Noel spent more than 25 years with the New Orleans Police Department. Now, he's hoping to bring some of the strategies he used in Louisiana to Knoxville with a focus on a few specific goals.

"Reducing violent crime, being more responsive, being more visible is something that we're going to be focusing on in the first few months," he said. "What we need to do internally is make this a very attractive organization for people to want to join."

He said that starts with accountability. It's why he applied to join A.B.L.E. on his first day.

Credit: WBIR

RELATED: KPD applies to join project meant to avoid officer misconduct, prevent mistakes

"That does not mean being heavy-handed with discipline at all," Noel said. "But, that absolutely means accountability and that we make sure we're all doing our job and we're doing it in a way that's respectful of the members of the public."

Chief Noel is tasked with selecting who he wants to serve as deputy chief. That's part of why he's meeting with every captain and lieutenant within the organization.

"I'm going to take my time and really evaluate the organization," he said. "Once we start the process, before we select the deputy chiefs, we're going to have an internal process to evaluate the employees and get people that want to compete for those positions the opportunity to do so."

Noel said he also valued the feedback he got from shadowing officers on the night shift in the East and West districts last week.

"I want to hear what they have to say, and I want to listen to them. Their opinion is very important to me," he said. "That's why I really place a lot of value in riding along with those police officers."

While going on calls for service isn't his main priority, Noel said he wants to make it a regular part of his workload so he can be an informed leader.

"It's not something I'm gonna do every day," he said. "But on a regular basis, I will get in a car with a police officer, get in a car with a supervisor and go on calls just so I could see the problems that they're facing from their perspective."

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