Commitment to Protect Children Earns Phyllis Tonkin Officer of the Year Honors

Communications Director

Jesse Fox Mayshark
jmayshark@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3710

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Commitment to Protect Children Earns Phyllis Tonkin Officer of the Year Honors

Posted: 04/03/2017
Rogero, Tonkin, RauschKnoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Chief David Rausch today named Phyllis Tonkin the 2016 Co-Officer of the Year for the Knoxville Police Department.  Officer Tonkin has been with the department since May 2002.  Officer Tonkin is currently assigned to the Special Crimes Unit as an investigator.  

In 2016, Investigator Tonkin was instrumental in the felony convictions of 10 individuals that netted over 100 years of prison time or probation. These felonies include child abuse, aggravated child abuse, rape, aggravated rape and promoting prostitution.  In addition to her normal duties, Investigator Tonkin has also been working with our partner agencies and non-governmental agencies to help combat human trafficking, a problem that is plaguing our society as modern-day slavery.  Investigator Tonkin has spoken to community groups, assisted officers from outside agencies and participated in fundraising functions for Grow Free TN, the human trafficking services provider for East Tennessee. 

During 2016, Investigator Tonkin performed in an exceptional manner to protect children from abuse and to ensure that their medical, psychological, and familial needs were met.  She is a genuinely caring and compassionate law enforcement officer who serves her community and colleagues with grace and professionalism.  Investigator Tonkin has routinely demonstrated her proficiency and willingness to collaborate with state and Federal law enforcement partners to achieve the most successful outcome in each of her cases.  

In 2015, she was notified of a report of a minor who may have been trafficked into Knoxville and who was in immediate danger of possibly being forced into prostitution.  Without hesitation, she contacted her partners in the FBI and they intercepted the trafficker and his partner as they were attempting to flee a hotel.  Investigator Tonkin was instrumental in debriefing the minor and ensuring that her medical and housing needs were met since she did not reside in Tennessee.  Her collaboration with the FBI to obtain crucial electronic and forensic evidence as well as her dogged determination to prove the elements of trafficking directly contributed to both subjects pleading guilty in 2016 to federal charges and receiving substantial terms of incarceration. 

Investigator Tonkin is humble and selfless in her pursuit of justice for victims.  Understanding the nuances in state and federal law regarding trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children, she has accumulated a wealth of experience in pursuing cases in both jurisdictions.  Never one to become complacent, she is consistently exploring training opportunities with the FBI to keep herself abreast of emerging case law, best practices, and innovative investigative techniques.  Her law enforcement partners are confident in her abilities and frequently rely upon her experience engaging with minor victims.  

We thank Investigator Tonkin for her commitment and dedication to the citizens we serve and congratulate her on a job well done.  

Click here to view a listing of KPD award winners.