For the second time in a month, a Knoxville police deputy chief is retiring amid an internal investigation, this one alleging that he helped cover up an officer’s racist remarks. The department announced Kenny Miller’s retirement Tuesday afternoon.
Miller’s retirement comes as KPD's top command continues to unravel. Deputy Chief Ron Green resigned and retired last month amid a sexual harassment investigation. His announcement came on the heels of Chief Eve Thomas' announcement she will retire in May.
The investigation will continue, said KPD spokesperson Scott Erland and city spokesperson Kristin Farley. But Miller will no longer be subject to discipline after he retires, according to department policy. He'll also be eligible for his full retirement package, including his pension. Miller is paid $101,849 annually and, if approved by the pension board, will receive a monthly payment of $6,012.56.
Miller, who began with the department in 1992, will leave for the private sector, a KPD press release said. He had been a deputy chief since 2016. His last day will be Jan. 14.
“I am incredibly grateful to Chief Miller for his unyielding dedication to the KPD and Knoxville community,” Thomas said in a statement. “Chief Miller has been a devoted public servant for the better part of the last three decades and we will greatly miss his expertise. That being said, I am also extremely happy for Kenny, who has worked hard to earn this new career opportunity. I wish him the absolute best as he enters this next phase of his life.”
Miller said in the release it "has been an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of Knoxville for more than 29 years as an officer with the Knoxville Police Department. Throughout my career at KPD, I was blessed to work with some incredible people who were, and remain dedicated to making our city safe and strong for everyone. The selfless men and women of KPD are truly special and will always hold a special place in my heart."
Following Miller’s departure, Captain David Powell will serve as the acting commander of the Management Services Division, which includes recruiting, training, police records and the Citizen's Police Academy.
Twice in the past three years, Miller has been a subject of Knox News investigations into commanders who were accused of helping cover up officer misconduct.
Miller is currently part of an investigation sparked by an officer's complaints that commanders, including Miller, lied about how they handled allegations of racist harassment of one officer by another.
Knox News previously reported Officer DionDré Jackson filed a complaint in June saying Lt. Lance Earlywine, Capt. Don Jones and Miller misled internal investigators looking into complaints in 2020 about the conduct of officer Adam Broome.
Broome resigned after another colleague complained in his exit interview about Broome's racist and unprofessional behavior, including telling Jackson in April 2019 that "he should know about being on a slave ship" and that reparations for "you all" (Black Americans) are "bulls---." Broome and the officer who originally complained are white. Jackson is Black.
Jackson's complaint focuses on denials by Earlywine, Jones and Miller that they knew the extent of the racist harassment despite being told about it by officers.
Earlywine said he didn't know about it, Jones said Jackson was vague about the harassment and Miller claimed he never met with Jackson.
Jackson, however, told investigators he explicitly told both commanders that Broome was a racist.
In an interview with Knox News after our reporting about the harassment, Chief Eve Thomas had no answer when asked repeatedly whether Miller was in the meeting with Jackson, even offering Miller's excuse that it's possible he simply couldn't remember.
When challenged about the credibility of forgetting that sort of encounter, Thomas replied, "Yeah, I know, I know ... again, what we do is work to be better," she said. "I go by their statements, and we have a truthfulness policy. And we work to be better."
Investigators did not press Jones or Miller about their statements and how they contradicted what Jackson had reported.
In 2019, after reporting about a video taken at roll call that showed Sgt. Bob Maxwell drawing stick figures on a white board depicting a woman performing oral sex on a man, Knox News reported that Miller downplayed and didn’t investigate it.
Later, Miller expressed concern that someone may “go to the damn Sentinel and WBIR” with copies of the video. He was ultimately given a written reprimand for failing to document to Internal Affairs his handling of a complaint that alleged an officer engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship.
Tyler Whetstone is a Knox News politics reporter focusing on Knoxville and Knox County.
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This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Second Knoxville deputy police chief is retiring amid an investigation