The Tennessee Highway Patrol has unveiled a new promotion policy that its new leadership said would help erase the political influence that plagued the department for decades and plunged it into scandal last year, The Tennessean reports. The policy establishes a process that is “open, completely transparent” and will include background checks, posting of troopers’ promotion rankings on the Internet, and more vetting of candidates to determine whether they have clean records, said interim Safety Commissioner Gerald Nicely.
The policy comes after an investigation by The Tennessean last year that revealed a culture of cronyism and political influence in which trooper promotions were often preceded by campaign donations or recommendations from powerful patrons. The fallout led Gov. Phil Bredesen to hire a New York-based consultant to investigate the department and suggest how to fix it. The Kroll Inc. report was a scathing indictment. In announcing the new policy yesterday, the highway patrol’s leadership said it had achieved many of Kroll’s recommendations. For the first time, the department, in making sergeant and lieutenant promotions, will use a statewide “roster” – a ranked list of candidates – that will be posted on the Internet.