KPD Public Information Officer
The Knoxville Police Department’s Public Information Office is a 24-hour a day, 7 day a week operation. Darrell DeBusk oversees one of the most advanced PIO offices in the country. Darrell has 17 years experience in television both as a photojournalist and most recently as the Assignment Manager for one of the top NBC affiliates in the country. He is a member of the National Information Officer’s Association. The KPD has twenty-seven Assistant Public Information Officers spread throughout the department. Because of this staffing, the KPD is able to respond to media calls for service at a moment’s notice. These officers respond to calls for media assistance while on duty only. The Public Information Office is assigned to the Police Chief's office and is physically in the Chief’s suite. Darrell answers directly to the City's Police Chief and is considered a member of his Command Staff.
The Public Information Office is structured to support the entire Knoxville Police Department. Its main function is to promote the department in a positive manner to both the general public and the news media. One way in which that goal is obtained is through periodic meetings with local media outlets to address their questions or concerns. These meetings allow them to have input on the media guidelines or to offer suggestions for fostering positive police / media relations.
The Public Information Office also has thirty mailboxes on a taped news line, or Code-A Phone system, which can be accessed from any phone by the media. Regular updates to the media in the Knoxville market start at 6 A.M. each day. Updates are placed on the Code-A-Phone as warranted throughout the day. All Knoxville Police Department cruisers have videotape cameras and lap top computers, thus adding to the immediate response for the public information function.
The Police Chief has been insistent on the very best in training for the PIO staff, as he does for the more than 500 sworn and civilian members of the department. The current staff of Assistant Public Information officers went through a one-week school with media members from the Knoxville market as well as nationally known consultants in radio and television. These men and women were also given hands-on training in a real life setting, which enabled them to perform on the streets with perfection. Each and very PIO has taken the job voluntarily with no extra compensation.