Owen appointed as new police chief

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Owen appointed as new police chief

Posted: 08/10/2004
Mayor Bill Haslam announced today the hiring of Sterling Owen IV, a 22-year law enforcement veteran with extensive experience working with federal, state and local agencies and a history of Knoxville community involvement, as chief of the Knoxville Police Department.

"Knoxville is lucky to have someone with I.V.'s experience and commitment to the community to lead its police department," said Mayor Haslam. "During his career as a federal officer, coordinator of multi-agency task forces, supervisor of agents and small business owner he has earned the respect of many for his outstanding leadership skills."

"The job of the Knoxville police chief requires someone who displays discipline and compassion, a passion for police work and respect for police officers, a love of the city and a desire to see Knoxville become the best city it can be," the mayor said. "I believe I.V. possesses all these traits and will serve Knoxville citizens well."

Owen will be sworn in Sept. 1.

"I have pledged my loyal and unconditional commitment to the men and women of the Knoxville Police Department and the citizens of Knoxville in accepting the job as the city's police chief," Owen said. "I will be available to members of the community and sensitive to neighborhood concerns. My mission will be to hire and retain excellent police officers, to ensure they receive outstanding training, to provide officers with the best equipment possible and to lead the department by example."

Mayor Haslam tapped Owen from a field of six candidates that the mayor and a citizens advisory committee developed after reviewing and discussing some 40 applications generated by national advertisements for the post.

"We had six good candidates any of whom would have been a good chief," Mayor Haslam said. "The finalists included three deputy chiefs who I am glad are part of the leadership team at the Knoxville Police Department, as well as two out-of-state candidates. "I.V.'s breadth and depth of experience in law enforcement, strong recommendations from peers and proven leadership abilities lead me to offering him the position," he stated.

Sue Atchley, one of nine citizens who served on the police selection advisory committee, praised the candid environment in which the committee deliberated.

"This was one of the greatest committees I ever served on because everyone was honest as the day is long," she said. "The mayor listened carefully to each of us, was thoughtful in his questions and was determined to pick the very best candidate."

Committee member Carl McCarter agreed the search process was productive. "As a representative of the Fraternal Order of Police, I was pleased with the process and believe it was a good way to select a chief," McCarter said. "We had input into the process, the Mayor listened to our concerns and the questions we raised were asked of the candidates."

Owen has been the owner for the past nine years of a Knoxville-based security consulting firm, working as a trustee for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, inspector for weapons and non-weapons laboratories for the Department of Energy; and organized crime investigator for the Department of Justice.

He has served as the chairman of the Police Advisory Review Commission since its inception in 1998. The commission's aim is to strengthen the relationship between the members of the Knoxville Police Department and the citizens they serve through an independent review of police actions.

Prior to starting his own business, Owen was supervisory special agent in the FBI's Knoxville office, where he was responsible for white collar, civil rights and other criminal programs.

He participated both as an operative and administrator in multi-agency investigative efforts including those concerning the Butcher bank failure, illegal gambling and environmental crimes. He was a SWAT coordinator involved in the resolution of the Atlanta Federal Prison riot and capture of FBI Top Ten fugitive Michael Wayne Jackson.

He received the FBI's Merit Award resulting from the rescue of 13 hostages from the Talladega, Alabama, Federal Prison and was named National Criminal Investigator of the Year representing all federal law enforcement agencies. His civic activities include serving as vice chairman and volunteer of the Knoxville Open Golf Tournament for the benefit of the Boys and Girls Club and as a squad coordinator for the United Way.

He is a graduate of Leadership Knoxville and the Knoxville Citizens Police Academy Graduate.

Owen received a bachelor's degree in accounting from Carson-Newman College and has attended numerous professional law enforcement courses over the course of his career.

Owen lives in the Holston Hills neighborhood with his wife, Jolene. He has two adult daughters and three grandsons.