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Cookeville Police Department Names 2021 Officer of the Year, Distinguished Citizen Award

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cookeville Police Department Names 2021 Officer of the Year, Distinguished Citizen Award

Cookeville Police Officer Andrew Gibbs named Officer of the Year for 2021.

Chief Randy Evans said the department received only one nomination, and it was somewhat unanimous across the department. At Thursday night’s Cookeville City Council meeting, Evans read memos from Gibbs’ supervisors lauding his work.

“He has proven that he can make sound decisions in stressful situations,” Evans said. “And anytime a case he is involved with comes to the forefront of some sort of controversy, he has always represented the department well.”

Another supervisor described Gibbs as a consistently high-performing officer within the department. Evans said Gibbs has shown a keen ability to go above and beyond just a call for service or making a traffic stop.

Evans said Gibbs is an asset not only to the department but to the community as a whole.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with him just hand in hand on some things so I know he is well-deserving of that award for sure,” Gibbs said. “I’ve enjoyed working with him on many occasions, so congratulations. I appreciate everything you do for us.”

Cookeville Police also named Jamaal Thompson (JT) the department’s Distinguished Citizen Award.

“One of the goals of the Cookeville Police Department is to apply a true community-oriented policing philosophy to all services delivered to the community as well as to develop and maintain positive relationships that foster problem-solving partnerships with our law enforcement cohorts and the citizens we serve,” Evans said. “That’s exactly what JT did and continues to do every day.”

During the onset of the pandemic, Chief Evans met JT at a meeting on the campus of Tennessee Tech. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers earlier that year had obviously had a negative effect on the relationship between communities of color and law enforcement agencies nationwide. During later conversations with JT, there was some discussion about offering a Citizen’s Police Academy type of training program as a “for-credit” class at TTU. A goal for the class would be to specifically attract students who are culturally different from most of the members of the Cookeville Police Department and/or students from communities where the relationship with law enforcement is particularly strained.
While some might offer platitudes or sincerely mean to help without any follow through, JT took ownership of the idea and started contacting university faculty members and coaching staff to explain and promote the concept. His efforts were instrumental in the adaptation of the Service Learning in the Community class to match the paradigm that had been previously discussed. Once the first class was scheduled for the Spring Semester of 2021, JT personally contacted students (especially student-athletes) to help convince them to enroll in the class.


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