Legacy Awards

Police Chief

Eve M. Thomas
(865) 215-7000

800 Howard Baker Jr. Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37915

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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.


Captain Charlie Coleman

ColemanCaptain 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. 

Chief Joe Fowler

FowlerChief 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. 

Chief Phil Keith

Phil KeithIt is nearly impossible to summarize the impact that Chief Keith had on the Knoxville Police Department in his nearly 35 years of service. He served the KPD from 1970-2004, acting as the Chief of Police for the final 16 years of his career. 

Over that time, Chief Keith cultivated funds and projects that put the KPD on the forefront of law enforcement nationally. In that arena, Chief Keith, among a multitude of other things, embraced community policing, enhanced the communications capacity for the Knoxville community and developed a specialized promotional process internally. 

Chief Keith also improved the lives of police officers by providing training opportunities to help promoted officers to succeed, assuring better pay structures in all three paths of promotion and implementing the Drive Home Vehicle program. 

On top of that, Chief Keith helped drastically improve community relations by establishing the Police Advisory Review Committee, collaborating with the KCDC, starting the SRO program for schools located in the city, initiating the in-car camera system and implementing the Citizen’s Police Academy. 

Chief Keith remains on the forefront of policing strategy and policy nationally as he serves as the Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) at the request of the U.S. Attorney General. That office aids law enforcement nationally by providing funds, resources and training. 

All of that merely scratches the surface of all that Chief Keith has accomplished and continues to do. He has been recognized by mayors, governors and the President of the United State among a multitude of others, and he possesses a volume of knowledge and expertise that is virtually unmatched. That knowledge continues to be widely accessed and used across the country. 

Chief Keith embodies everything that the Legacy Award stands for. He served the KPD and Knoxville with exceptional service and challenged everyone he led to meet that standard of excellence. His legacy extends far beyond the reach of KPD alone, and continues to shape law enforcement action through Knoxville, the state of Tennessee and the nation.  


Arthur Milo (Bo) Bohanan

Art BohananDuring the time Officer Bo Bohanan served with KPD, he brought many distinguished honors to the department in the field of forensic fingerprinting and other forensic research. Since retiring, he has continued to bring honor to the department by being associated with KPD during programs and presentations throughout the area.

His super glue theory, allowing fingerprints to be lifted from human skin, was patented and became an internationally respected forensic device. As far away as London, England, these devices are in use. Even though the device took many years of his life to develop, he has not sold the device for profit but has given the diagram and instruction on how to construct the device to any law enforcement agency that has made such a request. 

Due to his expertise in forensic identification, he was requested and deployed twice to serve on the De-Mort teams following the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York City.

Over the years, his presentations to hundreds of youth in the field of forensics has resulted in untold numbers of forensic specialists and researchers working today. Also, his lectures to groups, large and small, have educated thousands of curious individuals over the years on forensics.

To this day, he is still doing forensic research. His research over the past two years to detect and locate human remains has developed to the level of not only locating remains but being able to determine the sex before they are exhumed. This research is ongoing.

The list of his accomplishments during his KPD service and afterwards is long, admirable and nothing short of remarkable.

Officer Bohanan was not only a forensic researcher and expert with KPD, but also served as a uniformed officer, being regarded as an honorable and respected officer.

Rudy G. Bradley

Rudy BradleyDeputy Chief Rudy Bradley joined the Knoxville Police Department in 1962 following his service in the U.S. Army and served for 35 years. In 1970, he was promoted to Sergeant and just two years later he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. In 1975, he was chosen as a Captain and commanded a street detail of officers. In 1992, he was promoted to Deputy Chief of  Police, a post he served with honor and dignity until he retired in the fall of 1997.

Chief Bradley passed away in April 2017, but he leaves a legacy of honor, honesty, dignity and a lasting imprint on those who served with him and those yet to come. He knew who he was and most importantly, he knew what it was to be a police officer. He never complained, always wore a smile and had a funny story to share, and he was always ready to help a stranger. His calm demeanor helped de-escalate many difficult situations. To Protect and Serve: That was Chief Bradley.

He was known as a humble and a smart man with a quiet confidence that was legendary. People instinctively knew that when he arrived on the scene, all was well. He was a cop's cop without question, but also a Knoxvillian. He loved his community, fellow officers, and friends and family. He was a gentleman and a gentle man as he carried authority with dignity and honor. 

Chief Bradley left a long lasting impression on many generations and as his legacy lives on, he will continue to be the bright shining star watching over his beloved KPD, the city and people he served so well.

Van Bubel

Van BubelThroughout his 40-year career in law enforcement, Officer Van Bubel embodied the character and courage of a police officer on a daily basis. Officers from various departments or regions of the country have modeled themselves after his character. In fact, KPD has crafted some of its most important principles after Officer Bubel, appropriately named "Bubel's Laws." These laws are used by officers, both past and present, on a daily basis as a fundamental guide to officer safety. When any officer at KPD thinks of officer presence, they immediately think of Officer Bubel, for he defined officer presence in an effortless manner while conducting his duties as a police officer.

From 1979-1991, Officer Bubel faithfully served the City of Knoxville as a patrol officer. From 1989-1991, he served as a Field Training Officer, mentoring and teaching skills to newly sworn police officers. He served as a team member of the KPD Special Operations Squad from 1982-1988 and while on this team, his duties consisted of specialized training with weapons and tactics to respond to unique or high-risk situations.

In 1988, Officer Bubel assisted Sgt. Gary Shaffer in the development and formation of the KPD Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Team, and he served on the KPD EOD Team until 2010. While serving as a EOD team member, his duties consisted of rendering safe services and final disposition of explosive devices. He also served as the EOD Team Commander from 2001-2010, and he designed and coordinated the team training, assisted in special event planning, research and development of new technologies and tactics, and made command decisions.

From 1991-2011, Officer Bubel demonstrated exemplary service in KPD by serving as the primary training officer for hundreds of police recruits that serve the City of Knoxville. He selflessly devoted his time to staying up to date on current police training trends so that he could pass this knowledge along to fellow police officers and recruits.

During his tenure, Officer Bubel tirelessly invested his knowledge, training techniques and expertise into the development of the KPD Training Academy Firearms Training Program and the KPD Firearms Range. His training methods and the KPD Firearms Range that he helped develop are still used to this day to train current police officers, recruits and numerous other agencies in surrounding jurisdictions.

Officer Bubel spent 40 years of his life devoted to the profession of law enforcement. More importantly, he spent the vast majority of his career in law enforcement sharpening his skills so that he could pass along his knowledge to fellow peers and future generations of law enforcement officers. This dedication is the foundation for the aptly named "Bubel's Laws." One of the laws states that "nothing is more important than your partner." Officer Bubel's dedication to KPD and fellow officers ensured that the skills and tactics he passed along will always allow partners to go home alive at the end of every shift.

Daniel Crenshaw

Dan CrenshawSenior Evidence Technician Dan Crenshaw began his career in law enforcement as a fingerprint examiner with the FBI but he had to leave the bureau after moving back to Knoxville for family reasons. He was hired in 1993 for the KPD Crime Lab as an Evidence Technician and aspired to be an officer or investigator someday. However, Crenshaw enjoyed investigating crime scenes and stuck with the Crime Lab.  
In 1998, Technician Crenshaw received his latent fingerprint certification from the International Association for Identification. This certification allowed him to utilize the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), and it was the beginning of solving many crimes. In an article from the Knoxville News Sentinel in 1998, he is quoted as saying of the certification, “Hopefully, I’ll solve crimes. That’s what I’m in it for. I want to put bad guys in jail and help victims.”
And solving crimes is what Technician Crenshaw did for many years. He became known as the one to go the extra mile, take that extra step until he found the evidence to show what happened and find the perpetrator. He had an eye for seeing what others could not, was an expert at examining and comparing fingerprints, and was an expert at finding, developing and collecting prints to connect crime scenes and suspects. He could then use this expertise to testify and help secure convictions in court. He was known as a tenacious crime scene investigator while being involved in many high-profile cases in Knoxville.  
Technician Crenshaw lifted prints from a Bearden home that helped identify a suspect in the slaying of Johnia Berry. He found crucial evidence that aided in the successful prosecution of Brandon Mobley in a double murder case. He lifted Mobley’s fingerprint from a .38 caliber revolver connecting him to the murder.
In arguably the highest profile case in Knoxville’s history, Technician Crenshaw helped locate the area of the brutal torture-murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. Because of his eye for detail and persistent search for evidence, he found the first and crucial clue leading investigators to the crime scene and ultimately the successful arrest and prosecution of four suspects. He lifted a print from a receipt found in the back of the murdered couple's carjacked Toyota 4Runner that lead investigators to one of the crime scenes. Additionally, using a difficult technique of utilizing super glue to locate/highlight fingerprints, he lifted prints from a garbage bag, which became a key piece of evidence connecting the victim and suspect. 
Senior Evidence Technician Dan Crenshaw, a graduate of the University of Tennessee National Forensic Academy, was instrumental in training new evidence technicians and officers in crime scene investigation and preservation. 

Gerald King

Gerald KingCaptain Gerald King served KPD for close to 30 years, rising through the ranks to Captain. He is best known for his time when he headed the KPD Training Division and transformed the training process. His thinking of employees as valuable assets helped shape policy about employees and providing the best possible training. He, along with other training directors in the state, established the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Officers Association.
Upon his retirement from KPD, Captain King assisted the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and later helped establish the Chaplains Corps at the Blount County Sheriff’s Office. His expertise was helpful to these agencies in improving their policies and procedures. His skill and expertise is well known and considered highly by surrounding agencies as well as KPD.
In his retirement, Captain King was one of the original chaplains who started the KPD Chaplains Corps in September 1994. As a brand new program in KPD, he helped to mesh the Chaplains Corps with KPD employees to build a trust relationship that has evolved into the Chaplains Corps of today that is an important part of the KPD family.  He helped bridge the trust level of the officers for the chaplains.
Currently in the Chaplains Corps, Captain King has excelled in many ways. He leads the ongoing training opportunities for the chaplains, often teaching classes himself.  He serves as a Squad Leader for a group of chaplains, providing leadership and expertise to the squad members. Also, as a Squad Leader, he is always one of the first to respond and assist in crisis situations.
He has been an active member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains (ICPC), attending several national and regional training seminars and teaching chaplain classes at many of them. Because of his expertise in chaplaincy, he is often called upon to teach at ICPC events. He has risen through the levels of ICPC credentialing and is an integral part of the KPD Chaplain Academy.
Captain King is very well-respected by everyone at KPD. He is still fondly called “Captain” by many in the Department who remember his time as an officer and “Chaplain” by those who have come to know and love him since his retirement. He has impacted the entire KPD by faithfully serving for many years and in many ways. He is beloved by all who know him and continues to serve and to contribute to a better and stronger Knoxville Police Department.

James Mason

James MasonOfficer James Mason was hired in 1884 and served as Knoxville's second African-American permanent officer. Officer Moses Smith was the city's first permanent officer. Post Reconstruction, Knoxville was one of just five cities in the South with black officers in its department.

Officer Mason, in light of his truly distinguished career at KPD and his contributions to the City of Knoxville, was born into slavery in Knoxville about 1840 and was owned by Major James Swan. Officer Mason was fortunate that a member of the Swan family taught him to read at an early age and, while teaching slaves was forbidden in many areas in the South, that was not the case in Knoxville. As the number of free African-Americans soon outnumbered slaves, Officer Mason was given the opportunity to earn money on other jobs when not needed by the Swan family.  

With the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Officer Mason was eventually granted his freedom. Understanding the value of earning a wage as well as his freedom, he continued to work, with the goal of buying his wife Betty Fountain's freedom as well. With his wife being freed, he shifted his financial focus and used his savings to buy a house and lot on West Cumberland Avenue in 1866, making him the city's first African-American property owner and taxpayer.

Officer Mason was the first to petition the Tennessee School for the Deaf to admit an African-American pupil, unfortunately with no success. In 1879, Officer Mason established a school for deaf children in his home. In 1881, the state Legislature passed a bill for the establishment of a school for African-American deaf children with the first location being in Officer Mason's home. With the appropriation of funds in 1885 by the Tennessee General Assembly, the school was able to move to a site on Dandridge Avenue while serving the needs of 20 students.

Officer Mason was a servant of God, of children in need and of the Knoxville community. He honorably served KPD until his retirement in 1902.

Gary Shaffer

Gary ShafferSgt. Gary Shaffer served in the Marine Corps, established the KPD SWAT team and was assigned to the Training Academy to enhance the curriculum and development of incoming officers. Sgt. Shaffer's embodiment of holding individuals accountable, demonstrating honesty in his evaluation of others and his willingness to express his ideas despite consequences that might impact his career shaped his reputation as a leader. That reputation is not only held by members of KPD, but is recognized throughout Tennessee. 
Sgt. Shaffer always demonstrated selfless service to others as demonstrated by his willingness to take on each new challenge requested of him. He started the SWAT team in response to a potential barricaded suspect that could have impacted dozens of lives in downtown Knoxville. His sacrifice in developing training, recruiting the appropriate personnel and in acquiring equipment that would allow them to respond adequately enabled that team to represent KPD in a manner that resulted in no loss of life or injury during his tenure as Commander. Sgt. Shaffer took on other assignments with that same selfless attitude, whether taking on the EOD Unit when the previous members walked away, supervising the Motor Unit or taking on any assignment asked of him.

When asked to help develop the Phil Keith Firearms Facility, he took on that challenge with the same commitment as every assignment given. His military service consisted of distinguished service and awards. He also pastored a church, continuing to serve his community by every means possible.
His reputation in the Training Unit helped mold and develop a majority of the department and had a major impact on its previous and current leadership. Sgt. Shaffer's personal style is not one that requires acknowledgement, but in fact the humble attitude he demonstrates is what makes his leadership that much more impactful. From the manner in which KPD recruits are trained, to the dedication of those involved in special units, to the courage displayed in response to crisis, and to the attention and personal involvement demonstrated to our officers - these were all reflected in Sgt. Shaffer's actions.

The last legacy Gary Shaffer leaves is the two KPD officers who also carry his name - Josh Shaffer and Sammy Shaffer. 

Thomas Stiles

Thomas StilesThomas L. “Tommy” Stiles began his career with the Knoxville Police Department in December 1965 and served continuously until his retirement on June 1, 1996. During his distinguished career, Detective Stiles worked numerous assignments throughout the department including Patrol Division, Traffic Services, VICE and T.A.C., but excelled and became best known for his years assigned to the Major Crimes Unit as a Violent Crimes Investigator. For almost 14 years, Detective Stiles investigated a large majority of the worst violent criminal acts that occurred on the streets of Knoxville and maintained a solve rate that was second to none. Detective Stiles maintained this incredible pace right up until the day he hung up his holster and retired his badge.
Detective Stiles built a reputation of solving the unsolvable. Everywhere he went in Knoxville and Knox County, he ran into someone he knew who wanted to provide him information about criminal activity in their community. Most detectives referred to these citizens as sources, CIs or informants, but Detective Stiles referred to them as friends. He was more than a local cop; Detective Stiles had developed a trust with those friends and they knew he always had their backs. 

Detective Stiles treated everyone with the utmost respect. Prostitutes, homeless or mentally ill individuals, blue collar workers and professional business executives all received the same respect when dealing with Detective Stiles. Often, some of Knoxville’s citizens tell stories about Detective Stiles and of his kind acts of generosity. From spending his own money to purchase a poverty-stricken child a Christmas present to purchasing groceries for a fellow officer and his family that had fallen on hard times - these were just a few of the selfless acts performed by Detective Stiles time and time again over his career at the Knoxville Police Department.

In the late 1990s, a new concept called Community Policing emerged in law enforcement. This was not really a new concept for KPD; it was how Detective Stiles had been policing effectively for years. 

Detective Stiles had a lengthy career with numerous citations of merit, awards, letters of appreciation from citizens and other documented acts of incredible heroism, but never a mark of flawed decision-making or wrongdoing.

Upon his retirement from the Knoxville Police Department in 1996, Detective Stiles seized the opportunity to take on a challenge that he had been awaiting. Although fully employed in a second career, Detective Stiles went into the community with a determination to tell citizens how he had remained safe throughout his career, raised a family on a police officer’s salary and been deemed a successful businessman. He simply accredited his faith in his God and his church for his success. He thought that the badge an officer wears on his chest is not who that person is, it simply stands for what he/she does. It’s the man’s faith, character and heart underneath that badge that makes that man who he is.