Third trooper files lawsuit amid Tennessee Highway Patrol scandal

| Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Another trooper has filed suit against the Tennessee Highway Patrol, making him the third person in recent weeks to take on the patrol for its allegedly questionable personnel practices.

On Feb. 2, Matthew Disney filed a lawsuit in federal district court, alleging that promotions were given within the patrol to troopers who supported the 2002 election of Gov. Mitch Bredesen, WBIR-TV reported.

Disney is the third trooper to come forward with allegations of corruption and cronyism within the ranks of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

On Feb. 6, Charles B. Farmer, a former lieutenant within the patrol, filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Safety, claiming he was fired from his job in 2004 after it was discovered that members of his family supported Republican candidates in a 2002 statewide election, The Tennessean reported.

Farmer claims he had never done poorly on evaluations until 2003, when a superior officer – the same man he claims chastised him for not supporting a Democratic candidate a year earlier – gave him bad marks. According to The Tennessean, after the poor test score, Farmer was moved to a midnight shift before being terminated.

Testimonials of wrongdoing within the patrol are beginning to creep out of the woodwork. During the same week as Farmer’s lawsuit, THP Trooper Archie Story claimed he was being fired from the patrol, after he complained to his supervisors about being forced to fix a ticket and change an accident report, according to The Associated Press

Further details on who the supposedly fixed ticket pertains to have not emerged. However, Story – a trooper with the patrol for nine years – said he filed the complaint in January, and was notified of his termination five days later, according to The AP.

THP officials have denied the claim, saying that Story’s firing has nothing to do with his complaint, but rather with two accidents he arrived to late, The AP reported.

The three lawsuits are the latest in a string of scandals to emerge from Tennessee’s state and local police forces, most of which stem from an ongoing investigation by The Tennessean. The newspaper has uncovered more than a dozen incidents, with allegations ranging from sexual misconduct to high-level cronyism throughout the state’s police force and various levels of government.

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