The governor-ordered report on the inner workings of the Tennessee
Highway Patrol has finally been made public. And, like the scathing articles
published in Nashville newspaper The
Tennessean during the past few months, it paints a not-so-pretty
picture of the inner workings of the patrol.
The report, which was released Monday, March 20, by the independently
contracted Kroll Government Services, brings to a close the third-party
investigation ordered by Gov. Phil Bredesen and Interim Safety Commissioner
Specifically, the report points out an undercurrent of politics and
cronyism that flows through the patrol’s ranks. However, according to the
investigation, the problems started long before Bredesen took office in 2003.
“While we have found THP
to be a professional organization from a public-facing, day-to-day operations
perspective, we have, at the same time, found it to be an organization infused
with and deeply affected by both internal and external politics,” the report
“While all indications
are that the vast majority of individuals working for THP perform their daily
law enforcement tasks with a high degree of professionalism, there is no
question that politics has permeated hiring, assignment and promotion within
the THP. This permeation has, by all accounts, been in place since the founding
of THP and has come to be understood as ‘just the way it is.’ ”
Problems within Tennessee’s state and local police forces began to bubble to the surface in mid-2005, after
an ongoing investigation The Tennessean reported dozens of allegations ranging from sexual misconduct to high-level
One of the report’s key recommendations is the prohibition of state
troopers from making financial donations to political campaigns, which became a
key issue after The Tennessean revealed that two-thirds of all troopers who were promoted or recommended for
promotion were tied to donations to Bredesen’s campaign.
However, a source with Bredesen’s office told The Tennessean that the banning of
political contributions will probably not happen.
“(Bredesen) feels like people have a right to participate in the
political process, and that includes making contributions to a campaign,” said
Will Pinkston, a spokesman for Bredesen. “His view … is making sure there’s a
well-developed, merit-based system of promotions that ignores party affiliation
and political activity.”
A copy of the report can be viewed at: krollworldwide.com/library/THP/THP_Report_03-20-2006.pdf.