Work Performance and Commitment to the Community Earns Officer Special Award

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Work Performance and Commitment to the Community Earns Officer Special Award

Posted: 04/17/2015
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Police Chief David Rausch today named Knoxville Police Department Officer Nate Skellenger the 2014 Co-Officer of the Year. Officer Skellenger has been with KPD since September 2009. 

Officer Skellenger is a K-9 officer assigned to West District Patrol. As a K-9 officer, Officer Skellenger has double duty. He has the duties required to train and care for his K-9 partner, Ammo, while also answering calls for service. In 2014, Officer Skellenger and Ammo were responsible for 6 DUI arrests, the seizure of three vehicles, confiscation of more than $3,000 in proceeds from drug sales, and the removal of nine guns from our streets. 

"But that is just the tip of the iceberg of Officer Skellenger's outstanding performance in 2014," said Chief Rausch. 

In February Officer Skellenger responded to a complaint of possible drug dealing activity at a west Knoxville motel. Upon contact with the room's occupant, Officer Skellenger discovered drug paraphernalia and detected a strong odor of marijuana. Officer Skellenger immediately requested a narcotics officer to respond to the motel. He also stayed past his duty time to assist with the execution of a search warrant that resulted in the discovery of 3 lbs. of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, multiple cell phones, and over $10,000 cash. Officer Skellenger's persistence disrupted a major marijuana drug distribution point. 

In September Officer Skellenger responded to a burglary in progress call at a residence on Hickory Drive. Upon his arrival Nate discovered the rear door had been forced open. 

Chief Rausch said, "As Nate was about to retrieve his K-9 partner from his vehicle the suspect fled on foot from the residence. Nate caught the suspect after a brief foot chase. 

All the property that had been stolen from the residence, including several handguns, was recovered and returned to the owner. His actions no doubt prevented several guns from being on the street."

"These are just a couple of examples of the fine work Nate does on a daily basis," said Chief Rausch. 

"But what really sets Nate apart is his passion to do the right thing by helping people in need," Chief Rausch said.

In February Nate responded to a suspicious vehicle parked in a west Knoxville motel parking lot. As Nate pulled up to the vehicle he noticed a young male and female with their 9-month-old child sleeping in the vehicle. The family was traveling from Kentucky and had suffered car trouble. They had help coming, but it would be the next morning before they arrived. The family indicated they did not have enough money to cover the cost of a motel room. Officer Skellenger immediately went into the motel office and paid the difference of the cost of the room out of his own pocket so the young family could sleep in a warm room. 

In November Officer Skellenger responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle parked in the rear of a cemetery on Keith Avenue. Officer Skellenger located the vehicle in the rear of the cemetery with a tent set up nearby. A male, his wife and their two small children were located at the vehicle. The male indicated he had been laid off from his residential painting job in North Carolina since work had slowed. The male said he read some classified ads for painting work in Knoxville so he packed up his family and loaded everything they could in their vehicle and drove to Knoxville. The male had applied with several local painting companies and was waiting on a response. He also said they had trouble getting into a shelter either due to having no vacancy or he would have to be separated from his wife, son and daughter. The low temperature for that night was to be in the forties, but dropping into the twenties over the next several nights. 

Nate then called a family friend that operated a small painting crew and explained the displaced family's situation. The male began working with the painting crew the next day. Officer Skellenger's friend was also able to allow the family to live in a house for a couple of weeks while the house was being painted. 

Chief Rausch said, "But Officer Skellenger's work was still not completed. Nate's wife along with the wife of their family friend took the family some food, pillows, and blankets to help them during their difficult time. In addition, Nate and his trainee delivered a Thanksgiving dinner to the family." 

"Officer Skellenger is a true professional in his job. He works every day to rid our streets of criminals, but more importantly, he cares about people. He takes the extra step to help those who are down on their luck. And he does this not for recognition, not for praise by his fellow officers, but because he cares and he wants to do the right thing."

Click here to view a listing of previous KPD award winners.