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KPD gives awards for 2021 Officer of the Year, as well as other leadership awards

The 2021 Employee Recognition Luncheon was Tuesday afternoon in The Foundry.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville Police Department honored some of its officers and employees on Tuesday, handing out awards for the work they've done throughout 2021.

They gave out awards for the 2021 Officers of the Year, the 2021 Employees of the Year and announced the winner of the Mike Waggoner Leadership Award. Three people were given awards for officers of the year.

The first was Tim Walker, a patrol officer who has worked with KPD since March 2005. They said he was chosen to receive the award "based on the sheer totality of his actions throughout the year."

In February 2021, he also earned the Officer of the Month distinction for de-escalating a situation involving a 10-year-old boy experiencing a mental health crisis. In March 2021, he was again chosen for the distinction for his response to an armed robbery.

In February 2022, they said also stopped a robbery at a gas station while on his way to work. They said he went to the gas station for a cup of coffee and when he pulled into the parking lot, he saw a woman run from the store and a man inside waving a gun. He entered the store alone and took the man into custody, they said.

The two other people who earned Officers of the Year were investigators Brandon Stryker and Brandon Glover. They worked on an investigation that led to the convictions of many gang members.

They joined KPD in 2006 and 2004 and almost immediately started working on a case involving a criminal gang responsible for violence and drug distribution. In July 2021, the evidence from that investigation was presented in federal court.

They said it showed several people were members of the Unknown Ghost Vice Lords and another person was a member of Chattanooga-based Black P Stones Bloods. They said the investigation showed they distributed kilograms of methamphetamine and other illegal drugs in the Knoxville and Chattanooga areas.

After the trial, eight people were found guilty.

Shannon Morris received an Employee of the Year Award for her role in resolving the Desheena Kyle case. In that case, Kytle was reported missing in June 2021 and stayed missing for several months.

While investigators searched for her, Morris analyzed data points from electronic evidence. They said her analysis helped police narrow down locations Desheena could be, which helped direct investigators working on the case.

On September 28, 2021, she identified a possible location Kyle could be at in north Knox County. Police found Kyle's body at that property, according to a release from officials. That discovery led to a first-degree murder charge against John Bassett.

Stacey Payne, grants and planning manager for KPD, was also chosen to receive the award for helping launch and manage the East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers program.

They said she spoke about the program internally and externally, and participated in many interviews with reporters while also meeting with community groups and building a social media presence. After her hard work, the program launched on May 1, 2021.

It received over 1,800 tips, leading to 49 arrests as of Feb. 22, apprehending 13 fugitives and helping seize more than $2,400 worth of drugs. It has also paid more than $9,000 in rewards for tips.

The 2021 Explorer of the Year also went to Alexander Beatty, who worked with the KPD Explorer Post since Feb. 2016 after graduating from the Basic Explorer Academy. He has been placed as the squad leader over Squad 1.

Officials said he spent more than 450 hours with KPD, volunteering to work every home football game at the University of Tennessee and other traffic events.

Veteran patrol officer J.D. Hopkins received the Mike Waggoner Leadership Award. The award goes to anyone who shows strong passion, dedication and thoroughness.

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