Tenn. rookie gets busy right away with bank robbers

By Matt Lakin
Scripps Howard News Service

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- William Muhlfeld's career as a police officer got off to a fast start when he helped nab two suspects in a bank robbery on his third day on the job.

Muhlfeld, 41, graduated Friday with the Knoxville Police Department's 37th class of recruits. Tuesday marked his second arrest.

"If you're lucky, you get one of these in your whole career," said his training officer, Norman Rickman. "When you get that done in your first three days, it's going to be kind of downhill after that."

Muhlfeld and Rickman were on patrol about the time a man walked into the BB&T bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash. The teller complied, and the man ran to a waiting Chevy Silverado truck, police spokesman Darrell DeBusk said.

The officers heard the truck's description on the police radio and pulled onto the shoulder of Interstate 40 going south to keep an eye out.

"When the information came out, we heard that the truck had Georgia plates," Muhlfeld said. "So it was natural that they'd be heading back toward home. And we weren't there five minutes when the vehicle came by."

The officers pulled the truck over and the driver and passenger surrendered without a fight. Officers said they found the stolen cash inside the truck.

Muhlfeld gives his training officer credit for the smooth arrest.

"I got good direction from him," he said. "He set the plan in place, and it worked well."

Muhlfeld came to East Tennessee in 2004 after serving nearly 20 years as a firefighter and public safety director for Hardee County, Fla. He helped deal with fires, floods and tropical storms until Hurricane Charlie destroyed his family's home.

"I'm going to expect the unexpected," he said. "I'm going to get up and be ready to do it all over again."

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