The streets of Knoxville have never been deadlier, with hundreds of people dying annually from violence or drug overdoses.
Knoxville Police Department officials, however, say they’re targeting what lies behind the growing death toll.
As part of its ongoing effort to combat the recent surges in both violent crimes and fatal ODs, KPD officers have been cracking down on violations involving firearms or illegal drugs.
Between August 23 and August 29, KPD officers arrested at least 58 people on 177 separate charges related to drugs or firearms, according to KPD spokesperson Scott Erland. Of the 177 alleged offenses, 25 were felonies and 152 were misdemeanors.
The suspects were between the ages of 14 and 56 years old, he said.
Officers seized seven guns and filed four charges for unlawful possession of a weapon, three charges for being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun and two charges for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, said Erland.
“Additionally, officers confiscated nearly 70 grams of suspected heroin, 15 grams of suspected meth, over 560 grams of marijuana, approximately 300 pills, and a variety of other narcotics and drug paraphernalia,” he continued.
“Officers obtained 13 charges for manufacture, sale or delivery of a controlled substance and seized over $4,000 from those arrests,” he said.
Last year, Knoxville experienced its deadliest year on record for overdose deaths. In Knox County, 413 people died during the year 2020 from drug overdoses, a 59% increase from 2019’s death toll.
There have been 293 overdose deaths so far in 2021, according to the office of District Attorney General Charme Allen.
Last year also saw the largest number of homicides in Knoxville’s history. At least 37 people were killed in 2020, breaking the old record of 35 from 1998.
So far this year, there have been at least 32 homicides within the city limits.
“The opioid epidemic continues to have a devastating impact in the community, and violent crime is a natural by-product of the sale of illegal drugs,” Erland said. “The KPD will remain persistent and diligent in its efforts to combat the sale of illegal drugs and prohibited firearm possession.”
Erland said that people with information regarding illegal drug sales are asked to call East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Tips can be submitted anonymously online at www.easttnvalleycrimestoppers.org, by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS or via the free mobile app, P3 Tips.
Tipsters will be eligible to receive a cash reward if they provide information that leads to an arrest or the seizure of illegal drugs.
Published on August 31, 2021.