After reading Matt Fagiana’s résumé, the question came naturally: “Are you married and have a family?”
Nope,” he said. “I’m married to my work. I don’t have a slow mode. I loved the educational aspects, always growing, changing with the times and to be better prepared to be a law enforcement officer of today.”
Sgt. Fagiana is a deputy sheriff at the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office and leads a team of eight young deputies who patrol the county’s approximately 250 square miles from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. – the overnight shift. He’s 41 and his young charges affectionately call him “Papaw.”
Fagiana says Cpl. Zach Frye is his go-to second in command on the night-shift squad. “My deputies are young. I’m old enough to be their daddy. These guys love coming to work,” he says. “They have great attitudes and I always want them to feel appreciated. The county is lucky to have these guys.”
He’s packed a great deal into that toolbox labeled experience.
- Five years as a trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
- Four years as a Blount County Sheriff’s deputy and crash reconstructionist.
- Seven years as director of homeland security, safety & risk management for the Lenoir City Utilities Board.
- Sergeant and public information officer for the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office. He also handles the department’s social media, oversees grants and state partnerships and coordinates all public relations events.
- Adjunct instructor, East Tennessee Regional Law Enforcement Academy at Walters State Community College.
- 33 certifications as a first responder/emergency services professional.
- Tennessee licensed Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT).
- First Aid/CPR/AED instructor.
- Since 1998, he is a part-time EMS and EMT at Sevier County EMS.
He has graciously accepted three major awards during his career:
- 2003 State Trooper of the Year, District 1, Tennessee Highway Patrol.
- 2009 Blount County Sheriff’s Office Life Saving Award.
- 2016 Excellence in Risk Management Award, Tennessee Municipal League.
Fagiana is a Sevier County boy from Seymour, graduate of Seymour High, class of 1998. What you just read about Fagiana all began at First Baptist Church of Sevier County. Then THP Trooper Bill Fox and Terry Chandler, a Sevier County EMT, were his role models. Those relationships led him to be a volunteer at the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department. “They laid the foundation for my career,” Fagiana says.
While at Blount County, he was a motorcycle officer who spent many days patrolling the infamous Dragon, that 11-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 129 with 318 curves between East Tennessee and North Carolina. “I worked several fatal crashes up there and it’s tough work,” he said. “I don’t miss it.”
He was honored with the Life Saving Award for entering the kitchen of a fully engulfed house on fire and pulling an unresponsive man to safety in 2009. “I’m not a firefighter and that experience really scared me. I had smoke inhalation in a matter of seconds. It took about 30 seconds to get him out and thankfully he survived.”
Another memorable event made the news back in 2004. He calls it “maybe the coolest event” of his career. He was driving on Kingston Pike in his THP cruiser and a call came across the radio about a woman in labor at PF Chang’s. “I was right here and had my EMT bag in the trunk. I got there within two minutes and took over. The baby had crowned. He came on out and I cut the umbilical cord and my name was on birth certificate.”
Here’s the rest of the story. A year ago, the baby’s father, now living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with the family, tracked him down using Facebook and they reconnected. “It was really something I’ll never forget,” Fagiana said.
And just this past Aug. 20, Fagiana organized a special Law Enforcement Day for young Cooper Stansbury at Mayor Bob Leonard Park in Farragut. He was helped by deputies from Loudon, Knox, Anderson and Blount counties, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Rural Metro.
“We wanted to cheer him up and had the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopters there and lots of law enforcement. I love pulling together events like this,” he said. “It meant a lot to me and his family. I love this little kid. His parents have become great friends of mine. I’m glad God brought us together.”
And we finally learned that Fagiana actually does have a family member always waiting for him at home – Leo, his yellow Golden Doodle. “I do love my dog,” he said. “He’s my family. He goes everywhere with me.”
Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and was 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.