Behind the badge: Women on the rise with KPD's chief

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Since 2016, nearly 100,000 women have been sworn in as police officers around the country. Out of more than 1,500 departments nationwide, women run 170 of them. Knoxville is one of them.

Two years ago in 2018, Knoxville Police Department Chief Eve Thomas was sworn in. She succeeded David Rausch, who has since moved on to work with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and became Knoxville's first female chief.

She began her law enforcement career in 1993, and she was in the same academy class with Rausch.

Two years after her appointment, WVLT News Anchor Alan Williams sat down with Chief Thomas to talk about her successes and the challenges of being a woman in the male-dominated field of law enforcement.

As for being the first woman to hold her position, Thomas said, "I think it's just time. Females have been in this profession long enough in Knoxville."

"I like to think as Mayor Rogero promoted me, she promoted me because of my skills and not because I'm a woman," Thomas added. "That's kind of a bonus to being the first woman as well."

Rogero happened to be another of Knoxville's first, becoming the city's first female mayor in 2011. Her successor, Indya Kincannon, has sought to tackle police recruiting in the city, something Chief Thomas said is needed.

Chief Thomas said previously that recruiting has become difficult due to the nature of the job and other issues.

"It's a difficult job. You have to have a passion for community service," said Thomas.

Chief Thomas said she looks for recruits who have a heart for the job.

Alongside the job, Chief Thomas is a wife and mom of two children, 18 and 20. One loves fast cars. The speed limit may have just been raised on I-40 in Knoxville, but Thomas said she had a warning for her son.

"I'm constantly telling him, 'please, don't embarrass me,' for lack of a better word, 'be careful out there'."

Overall, Chief Thomas said she's "always trying to look for the good."

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