By Mike Steely

During the Zoom meeting between Knoxville elected officials and local state legislators today, state Senator and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally made a statement in speaking about the city’s growing violent shootings.

McNally, who represents Oak Ridge in the state Senate, denounced “the surge in violence in the city” and “the tragedy of innocent citizens being gunned down in the middle of town.”

“There are things I might suggest for Chief Thomas, the mayor and vice mayor to consider” he said and went on to suggest “a stop and frisk policy.” He added, “There are some constitutional guidelines where you can do that.”

McNally said an officer can stop a citizen, ask some questions, and then conduct a frisk without detaining the citizen for “an inordinate period of time.”

The statement caught city officials and council members by surprise given the current policing policies inside the city.

Mayor Indya Kincannon and Chief Eve Thomas have worked on updating the Code of Conduct of the police officers. The Knoxville Focus asked Kincannon and Thomas for comments as well as comments from all the city council members.

Mayor Kincannon’s spokesperson, Kristin Farley, told the Focus the mayor does not condone Stop and Search. “It’s not our policy.” she said.

Police Chief Thomas and Mayor Kincannon issued the following statement, “The Knoxville Police Department has not and will not engage in the practice of random stop-and-frisk activity. We do intend to concentrate our law enforcement personnel and resources in areas that have a higher rate of violent crime. Per policy, officers will only stop individuals when there is reasonable suspicion supported by specific facts that a criminal offense has been or is about to be committed. If officers stop individuals based upon probable cause, the officers will engage the persons professionally consistent with their training to protect the community and to ensure the safety of the officers.”

Councilwoman Amelia Parker responded, “Policies like stop and frisk have been found to be ineffective and a violation of 4th Amendment constitutional rights. In fact, too often these policies result in racial profiling and abuse of police power. To build safe communities, neighborhoods must be able to trust law enforcement. Implementing policies like stop and frisk would only make our communities less safe and more distrustful of those we hire to protect us.”

Councilman Andrew Roberto told The Focus, “I do not support stop and frisk. This approach would be detrimental to an already suffering community that deserves to be treated with respect.

“Stop and Frisk proved to be highly racial and tied police up with innocent community members,” replied Councilwoman Lauren Rider.

“The East Knoxville community and KPD want a partnership that creates a safe community. We also need to address poverty and known root problems that have long been ignored. We all struggle with the answer to the problem. While I appreciate Lt. Governor McNally’s desire to offer suggestions, I think stop and frisk could create more distrust than problem-solving” she added.