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Captain Susan Coker, Officer Lori Banks named 2019 Community Service Award recipients  
Banks - Community Service Award

Captain Susan Coker and Officer Lori Banks have been recognized as the Knoxville Police Department’s 2019 Community Service Award recipients, it was announced on Monday, May 11. 

The Knoxville Police Department typically hosts a Recognition Luncheon to honor its yearly award winners. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 Recognition Luncheon was canceled. The winners were presented their award on the afternoon of Friday, May 8. 

“Community service is the essence of policing, and Captain Coker and Officer Banks exemplify what it means to truly serve a community,” KPD Chief of Police Eve Thomas said. “Captain Coker’s dedication to the Crisis Intervention Team and Officer Banks’ impact at Safety City also puts on full display the very different yet meaningful ways community service can be rendered. Though they do not seek recognition, we are honored to present this well-deserved honor to these two outstanding officers.” 

Coker - Community Service Award

Captain Coker has been with the Knoxville Police Department since entering the training academy in January 1996. She previously served as the Lieutenant over the Personnel Unit before being promoted to the rank of Captain on February 17, 2020. Coker currently serves as the commander of the East District. 

Coker was selected to receive the Community Service Award for her staunch support of and efforts to implement the Crisis Intervention Team both at the Knoxville Police Department and throughout the surrounding communities. 

Among other things, CIT training includes mental health and substance abuse awareness, and provides skills to identify and assist those experiencing a mental health crisis. It also creates a network for officers to connect people in need with mental health professionals and resources. 

Coker serves on the Regional CIT Board and has been instrumental in forging and maintaining relationships with area mental healthcare providers. She has assisted in the development, planning and instruction of numerous CIT training schools involving members from local police departments, UT Medical Security staff, AMR, the KPD recruit academy and more. 

At KPD, she pushed for the creation of documentation to track and better serve those that officers come into contact with experiencing mental health crises. Under her guidance, KPD officers proposed and presented a workshop detailing how the KPD integrated with regional mental health partners to serve the community at the 2018 International CIT Conference in Kansas City. 

Due to Captain Coker’s dedicated and ingenious efforts, Knoxville Police Department officers have been equipped with the skills to identify and handle those suffering from mental illness, an understanding of the resources available, and connections to assist those in need in lieu of incarceration. 

“Without the dedication and ingenuity of Captain Coker, our officers would be remiss in our dealings with those in our community suffering from mental illness,” Sergeant Rachel Britt said. 

Officer Banks has been with the KPD since starting the recruit academy in May 2002. She currently serves in the Safety Education Unit and has been assigned to Safety City since 2017. 

Banks was presented with the Community Service Award for her tireless work and innovative alterations to the Safety City operations to improve the overall educational experience and reach. 

Banks spearheaded numerous changes at Safety City, including the following: 

- Expanded outreach to all of Knox County second graders and encouraged scheduling for schools that had not attended in recent years. That effort increased the number of Knox County schools participating in field trips from 30 to 46 of the 49 elementary schools in Knox County.

- Updated the structure and curriculum for the field trip program. This had multiple positive effects, including allowing smaller schools to attend while putting a focus on interactive activities to cultivate a fun learning environment, mirroring how students were learning at school. 

- Worked with Safety City staff and other City of Knoxville departments to oversee maintenance of the Safety City facility and upgrade equipment. That included the facilitation of a grant to purchase 25 new bikes and developing a working partnership with Traffic Engineering to aid in the upkeep of the facility. 

- Assisted in the creation of new community events, including the Summer Kickoff event, which grew from 240 participants to 624 in just one year, and a Safety City Christmas, which over 2,100 people attended in 2019. 

- Opened the facility for additional programming and opportunities with groups that include local businesses, community groups, scout troops and more. 

Due in large part to Banks’ efforts in improving the facility, its operations and classroom curriculum, the total Safety City attendance rose from 18,679 in 2017 to 28,978 in 2019. 

“Lori came into Safety City with a goal of making it an enjoyable place to work and visit,” Safety City Training Specialist Emily Tucker said. “She is not one to take credit for the increase in the number of people through the door and would probably give credit to other team members instead. 

“Officer Lori Banks has a true passion for Safety City and the community we serve,” Tucker continued. 

2019 Community Service Award video
Posted by serland On 11 May, 2020 at 12:22 PM  

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