The highest-ranking uniformed officer in the
Tennessee Highway Patrol has resigned at the request of his boss after an
ongoing series of investigative articles by a newspaper.
Col. Lynn Pitts, a 31-year veteran of the force and head of the patrol
since 2003, resigned from his position Tuesday, Dec. 6, after a story in The Tennessean found that 48 of the state’s more than 800
troopers had some type of charges on their criminal record, including felony
charges and suspended driver’s licenses
“As a result of recent events in the Tennessee Department of Safety, I
have requested and received the resignation of Tennessee Highway Patrol Col.
Lynn Pitts,” Fred Phillips, safety commissioner for the state, said in a press
release. “This action comes as a result of Col. Pitt’s’ attempt to purchase a
boat through the surplus division of the Department of General Services, which
is in violation of TCA 12-2-208.”
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
His crime?Forging a judge’s
signature to get out of a speeding ticket.
Tennessean’s probe of
the patrol has been an ongoing topic of interest for the newspaper. Less than
six months ago, an investigative series uncovered corruption in THP’s “honorary captain” program, which eventually led to
its government-ordered shutdown.
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