KNOXVILLE — Crime activity during the 2017 Knoxville National was similar to previous years, according to Knoxville Police Chief Dan Losada. During the event, 21 people were arrested or charged with a crime. Of those 21 arrests, 11 were alcohol-related offenses. Nine of the 21 people arrested had Marion County addresses.
This marks the first time, since Knoxville police have kept statistics, that Marion County arrests accounted for fewer than half of all arrests.
“Officers were kept busy, but we tried to remember that we want people to return year after year,” Losada said. “This is one reason you see few arrests.”
Losada said that officers could fill the jail with drunk people every night during Nationals. He said most of the drunk people are not driving and have someone willing to take responsibility for them.
No serious crimes were committed during Nationals, Losada said.
Despite having more than 20,000 additional people in town, KPD does not bring in officers from other agencies during Nationals. Losada said all of the KPD officers work during the event and are not allowed to take time off.
Having the extra people in town is a challenge for the KPD.
“The biggest challenge is balancing the desire to have people return and with keeping them safe,” Losada said. “In this age of social media, a single arrest can ruin an entire year’s effort by KPD.”
Losada said in past years he has seen people come in to KPD upset because of a ticket they received only to find out the ticket was issued by a trooper and not the KPD.
“Because the people were here for the Knoxville Nationals, they presumed it was a Knoxville officer that ruined their stay,” Losada said.
Traffic flow is another major challenge for KPD during nationals.
Losada said traffic has improved in recent years. Parking rules have been modified during Nationals to improve traffic flow and the safety of visitors and residents, he said.