Lt. Doug Stiles had two homes growing up – the family home in tiny Tuckahoe and the Knoxville Police Department (KPD). He still calls Tuckahoe home on his eight-acre farm near Kodak. In September 2021 he will walk away from 32-plus years at his second home, KPD headquarters at 800 Howard Baker Ave.
This lanky 6-5 fellow has had a fascinating and a sometimes very tense career wearing his badge and having the same call number as his late father – 204. Homicide Detective Tommy Stiles had two sons who both followed him at KPD – Doug and his now-retired brother Jeff. Jeff, 50, now works at the University of Tennessee and has been in remission for five years from the blood disorder multiple myeloma.
“I grew up coming in and out of this building as a little boy with Dad and it naturally became what I wanted to do with my life and I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. It’s been a great career.”
Before joining KPD in April 1989, Doug spent three years with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office working in the jail. Here’s what he’s done at KPD since:
Worked patrol for 20 years, promoted to sergeant and then lieutenant of the East District
Three years in the Repeat Offender Squad
Lieutenant over Violent Crimes Unit in the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) for 10 years
SWAT Team commander
Today he has a new job. KPD Chief Eve Thomas hand-picked Stiles to coordinate and manage the department’s new Employee Wellness Program. That job began a week ago today. The program is a passion for the chief. It includes an hour set aside during their shifts for exercise for each officer, a peer support group, a chaplain program for officers and their families, and an employee assistance program (EAP). Now, he reports directly to the chief.
“The health and overall wellness of our employees is my top priority as chief of police. As this program started to come to fruition, Lt. Stiles was an obvious candidate to take on this project,” Thomas said. “Doug is widely admired by his colleagues and has always taken great interest in the well-being of all KPD employees. He proudly accepted this new role and the Knoxville Police Department will be better for it.”
Chief Thomas has also made this program available to retirees.
Stiles will stay at this job until retiring on Sept. 1, 2021. He turns 56 the next day.
Some of his career reflections are harsh ones. The Violent Crimes Unit he was in investigated the brutal double murders of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23 in January 2007.
In 1997, he and fellow SWAT member Mike Keller shot a man to death who was barricaded in a home. “It was June 11, 9:03 p.m. on Chatham Circle and after seven hours we went in. He came at us with a knife and cut my hand before we shot,” Stiles recalls. “I knew we had no choice but to shoot. I hate that it happened, but the Good Lord put me in that position.”
As he sat and thought back to those days, he added this before we moved on in the interview: “There is a lot of pretty rough stuff that goes on out there. Officers see so much, and a lot of it is very gruesome stuff. Our new wellness program will really help everyone.”
He also works the sidelines at University of Tennessee football games. After the Vols beat Missouri, he was part of the KPD Mobile Field Force that patrolled Cumberland Avenue and The Strip on bicycles. “Ninety nine percent of the folks wave and say hello to us and it’s proof that not everybody hates the police,” he said. “Some even shouted out that they support us.”
Stiles has two sons – Jake and Luke. They are not following in Dad’s KPD footsteps. And, his mother, Sandy, lives just down the road from them in Tuckahoe.
What are his plans in retirement? “Spending more time with my wife, Molly, riding my Spider bike more and believe it or not, taking culinary classes at UT,” he said. “I can have dinner ready when Molly gets home.”
Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers. He writes this Monday column – Our Town Heroes –for KnoxTNToday.com. Suggest future stories at email@example.com or call him at 865-659-3562.