KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville Police Department signed an operating agreement with a civilian oversight committee meant to audit the disciplinary process and policies of KPD.
The Police Advisory and Review Committee regularly holds meetings and collects complaints from people who say they were a victim, witness, or has knowledge of alleged police misconduct. In August, Chief of Police Paul Noel sat down with them during their public meeting to discuss ways he planned to improve the way the department operates.
Months later in late November, he signed the first operating agreement in PARC's 24-year history.
PARC Director Tiffany Davidson said they felt it was important to clearly define each of their roles and the expectations they have for one another. She said the agreement is meant to provide infrastructure to ensure PARC continues to be an effective oversight committee.
"We take pride in being an organization that not only values transparency and accountability but welcomes it,” said Chief Noel. “We feel strongly that this operating agreement will improve public trust and confidence in the investigative process. I appreciate PARC Director Tiffany Davidson and her team for their efforts to make this happen."
According to a release, they worked together for several months on the new operating agreement.
It formalizes a complaint process and expands ways for PARC to collect complaints before they are sent to KPD to be investigated. It specifies that anonymous complaints must contain relevant information such as the names of officers involved as well as the time, date and location of an incident, to make sure incidents can be identified and reviewed.
It also specifies that PARC staff will establish relationships with community and civic groups that may collect complaints themselves, so PARC can submit those complaints to KPD. They will need to send complaints to KPD within five days of receiving them, or they can recommend complaints go to mediation.
The mediation process is offered as a voluntary alternative to the traditional complaint process, and the process will be developed by Noel and Davidson, according to the operating agreement.
The agreement also streamlines how PARC staff can access database information about the use of force, sworn employees with their demographics and assignment, as well as disciplinary data. It also specifies they can have access to police documents and report after a written request.
Finally, the agreement specifies the PARC Director or Investigative Manager will be able to attend any pre-disciplinary hearing and KPD will let PARC know ahead of time when they happen. They will also tell PARC about the outcome of hearings within a week after they are issued.
The new agreement takes effect immediately and is available to be read online.