KPD Presents Two with 2019 Legacy Award on Dec. 17, 2019

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
[email protected]
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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KPD Presents Two with 2019 Legacy Award on Dec. 17, 2019

Posted: 12/18/2019
Prior to its Annual Christmas Luncheon on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019 the Knoxville Police Department presented two distinguished former officers with 2019 Legacy Awards. 

The Legacy Award was established in 2018 to recognize former employees, both sworn and civilian, who exemplified exceptional and meritorious service to the Department and the City of Knoxville. Recipients displayed unparalleled honor integrity and courage throughout their career, demonstrated selfless service to the KPD and the community and, most importantly, left a lasting legacy that inspired future generations. 

Nominations may be submitted by any member of the Knoxville Police Department, while family members may also submit nominations. Those nominations are then reviewed and voted on by the Honor Committee.

In 2018, eight employees were given Legacy Awards in its inaugural year: Arthur Bohanan, Rudy Bradley, Van Bubel, Danny Crenshaw, Gerald King, James Mason, Gary Shaffer and Tommy Stiles.  

Former Chief of Police Joe Fowler and Captain Charlie Coleman joined that list on Tuesday by receiving the 2019 Legacy Award. Former Chief of Police Phil Keith was also selected to receive the award, but was unable to attend the event and will be recognized at a later date. 

Chief Joe Fowler is a name that is virtually synonymous with law enforcement in East Tennessee. He proudly served the KPD from 1950-78, rising from the rank of patrol officer all the way to Chief of Police in 1970, a post he held until his retirement in 1978. He also served two terms as the Knox County Sheriff from 1982-90 among other high-profile positions in and around the region. 

Chief Fowler’s accomplishments in his eight years as Chief of Police were many and included: the creation of the first Bomb Squad and Metro Narcotics Unit; co-authoring the minimum standards for hiring and training police officers in Tennessee alongside two other state Chiefs of Police; implementing the first upgrade of the KPD communications equipment in over 20 years; working to overhaul the KPD records system, including the first automated records system and electronic filing system; and serving as a policy leader throughout state, playing a big role in legislative changes to improve the work environment for all police officers. 

In addition to that, Chief Fowler also helped form the Tennessee Association of Chief of Police (TACP) over 47 years ago. That organization remains very active to this day and plays a vital role in maintaining the professional standards of law enforcement agencies across the state. 

Chief Fowler sadly passed away in 2009 at the age of 82, but his impact on the Knoxville Police Department and law enforcement agencies across the state will never be forgotten, as he selflessly dedicated nearly 50 years of his life to serving the community. And he did so with the utmost honesty and integrity. 

Chief Fowler’s family received and accepted the award on his behalf on Tuesday. 

Captain Charlie Coleman proudly served the citizens of Knoxville for 35 years, starting as a patrol officer before entering investigations and promoting up the ranks to retire as a captain. 

One nominator said of Captain Coleman that his career could be defined in the same way the Legacy Award is defined: Distinguished, Exceptional, Meritorious and Lasting Legacy. Another nominator said, “He sought justice for all.” 

Captain Coleman entered the police academy in February of 1968 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. That was a time of systemic change in our country and, from those that worked with him, Captain Coleman performed his duties with common sense, compassion and integrity. 

Captain Coleman was assigned as one of the first supervisors of the Metro Narcotics Unit, which combined the efforts of the KPD and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to combat drugs in the city. Captain Coleman was involved in nearly every facet of that unit from the day-to-day operations to the long-term vision, which continues to shape and inform many of the concepts still in use today by the Organized Crime Unit. 

Captain Coleman also oversaw the Violent Crimes Unit for a time. In that role, Captain Coleman balanced evolving techniques and new technology with old-fashioned policing built on establishing relationships in the community to solve some of the most complicated crimes in the city’s history. As with the Organized Crime Unit, that approach and philosophy remains in use by those working within the Violent Crimes Unit to this day. 

After 35 years of service to the KPD, Captain Coleman left with the respect and admiration of all those in the department. For his unyielding commitment to serving the KPD and the Knoxville community with compassion and integrity and his continued influence on future generations, the Department proudly presented Captain Coleman with the 2019 Legacy Award.