Next Monday, the Knoxville Police Department will have a new Chief of Police.
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero has promoted Deputy Chief Eve Thomas to become Knoxville’s first-ever female police chief.
Thomas was sworn in following the announcement Thursday and succeeds Chief David Rausch as he assumes the role of Director for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Monday, June 25.
She said she's ready for the role.
"The reason I know I am prepared is because of the great team we have. All the other deputies, all the command staff, the officers, we all work well together. We're a great team. And Chief Rausch has left me in a great spot."
Thomas began her career at KPD in 1993, serving in a number of capacities at the department including Field Training Officer, Recruitment Coordinator, Traffic Accident Reconstructionist, Police Driving Instructor and worked in the department’s accreditation unit.
In February, Thomas was named one of KPD's four deputy chief positions and assigned as division commander of the Criminal Investigations Division, becoming the second woman in the department’s history to obtain the rank next to Deputy Chief Cindy Gass. She was the newest of the four deputy chiefs at the department to obtain the rank.
Now she’s the first female ever to serve as Knoxville’s Police Chief.
"It's such an honor to be the next chief of police. I don't even make the distinction about being a female," she said.
Although the line of two dozen or so women who lined up to give her congratulatory hugs and handshakes underscores how much her appointment means.
"It feels really good to feel the cheers go up from all the females in the audience. It's really cool," she said.
Mayor Rogero said, regardless of gender, Thomas is the right pick.
"I am appointing chief Thomas as police chief because she is the best person for the job at this time period."
Before rising to the rank of Chief, Thomas had served as a Patrol Sergeant. She was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned responsibility of the department’s specialty units, including the Crisis Negotiation Unit, Special Operations Squad, K9 Unit, Search and Recovery Team, and others.
According to her KPD bio, Thomas has a Master’s Degree from Long Island University’s Homeland Security Master’s Institute and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Tennessee Knoxville.
She’s served the community outside the department as a Salvation Army Board Member and as the Chair of the Knox County Community Health Council.
Thomas succeeds Chief David Rausch after Governor Bill Haslam appointed him to be the next Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
He said that Thomas was the right pick for the job.
"She's absolutely highly qualified. She could lead any department in this country and we're blessed to have her leading this one."
Chief Rausch will assume his role as the TBI's top leader on Monday.
A formal promotional ceremony for Thomas will happen at a later date.
Rausch had joined KPD in 1993 and was named its chief in 2011 by interim Mayor Dan Brown.
Following the announcement of Rausch's appointment, Mayor Rogero said she met with the four Deputy Chiefs at the department to listen to their insights on what priorities the next police chief should have, and whether they were interested in the position.
The mayor said she wants the new chief to be like Chief Rausch when it comes to departmental knowledge and community involvement.
"The chief needs to know what's happening on the ground, on the street, needs to be supportive of the police force, and needs to help each of those officers do the best they can and move up in their careers," said Rogero.
Former interim Mayor Dan Brown, who appointed Rausch, said it took him a few months to make that decision when he was in office.
"It was a difficult choice when you have great candidates and you gotta pick one, it's hard to do," said Brown.