Tennessee newspaper uncovers further corruption in state highway patrol

| 12/2/2005

Suffice it to say, the Tennessee State Highway Patrol won’t be inviting The Tennessean to any of its Policemen’s Balls in the near future.

Less than six months after uncovering corruption in THP’s “honorary captain” program that eventually led to a government-ordered shutdown, the area newspaper has once again found wrongdoing in the state’s police force. This time, the newspaper released a report that found 48 of the state’s more than 800 troopers had some type of charges on their record, including felony charges and suspended driver’s licenses.

Additionally, The Tennessean also uncovered the story of Jerry Dean Watson – a former “trooper of the year” – who’d been convicted of a felony and resigned from the Highway Patrol in November 2001, only to be hired back in January 2003.

His crime?Forging a judge’s signature to get out of a speeding ticket.

State officials have not taken The Tennessean’s investigations lightly. After Watson’s rehiring was uncovered earlier this week, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen ordered background checks on all 800-plus Highway Patrol officers.