While there may be a new “sheriff” in town, it’s his
“deputies” that have some worried about the future integrity of the Tennessee
On Wednesday, March 1, Col. Mike Walker – a 29-year-veteran
of the patrol – replaced Col. Lynn Pitts, as commander, the highest uniformed
position within the patrol. Pitts resigned in December 2005 after accusations
of bribery, cronyism and corruption surfaced within the patrol’s ranks.
However, a new investigation by the Nashville newspaper The
Tennessean has revealed brand-new allegations against 17 high-ranking
captains – all of whom serve as leaders for the patrol’s 900-plus troopers and
are positioned directly below Walker in the organization’s hierarchy.
According to The Tennessean, 13 of the 17 captains
donated money to Gov. Phil Bredesen’s election campaign, four of whom skipped
the rank of lieutenant and were promoted directly to captain.
Other allegations against the 17 men include complaints of
favoritism, a forged signature, abuse of power, cover-ups on accident reports
and tickets, failure of patrol-required physicals, domestic violence, and fixed
tickets. None of the captains, however, were among the 48 officers found by The
Tennessean a few months ago to have criminal charges on their records.
Walker was promoted to his new position in hopes of cleaning
up the patrol’s ranks, after dozens of incidents began to emerge from
Tennessee’s state and local police forces, most of which stem from an ongoing
investigation by The Tennessean. The paper has uncovered allegations
ranging from sexual misconduct to high-level cronyism throughout the state’s
police force and various levels of government.