Two sergeants' promotions on hold in Tennessee's honorary badges snafu

| 8/17/2005

The promotion of two Tennessee Highway Patrol sergeants has been put on hold after The Tennessean newspaper uncovered their involvement in the “honorary captain” scandal.

On Monday, Aug. 8, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen told the patrol to stop issuing “honorary captain’s” badges and photo ID cards to supporters. That order came after The Tennessean discovered that the official-looking honorary badges – part of a program some believe was a secretive way for high-profile citizens to stay out of trouble with the law – had been given to politicians, campaign donors and celebrities for more than 30 years.

But according to The Tennessean, two sergeants – Sgt. Tansil Phillips and Sgt. Timothy Holloway – whose testimony was key in the dismissal of a DUI case against an “honorary captain” are now having their promotions to Lieutenant put on hold by state Safety Commissioner Fred Phillips. The sergeants’ promotions were scheduled to happen three days after the governor ordered the end of the honorary program.

The commissioner also put a temporary halt on all promotions for lieutenants and sergeants until the DUI case can be more thoroughly investigated.

However, at least one of the two men in question apparently hadn’t received the memo on his stalled promotion. When The Tennessean phoned Holloway at his Memphis office on Monday, Aug. 15, both Holloway and his assistant used the title of “Lieutenant” before his name when they answered the phone, the paper reported.

The Tennessean originally reported that 360 people had received the badges since 2002, 19 of whom are current or past staffers for the governor. Two badgeholders in the program – which had no eligibility criteria, application process or background checks – were found to have criminal records.