When Tennessee Trooper Calvin Jenks pulled over two men suspected of carrying drugs Saturday night on a dark rural highway in West Tennessee, he didn’t call in to dispatchers to alert them to his whereabouts, reports The Tennessean. Unlike many police agencies that require such notification, the Tennessee Highway Patrol leaves it up to its troopers whether to call in when they make a traffic stop. The Highway Patrol has neither the number of dispatchers nor the equipment to handle that much radio traffic if every trooper called in each stop, said commander Col. Mike Walker.
Jenks, 24, was shot point-blank in the head and killed as he leaned into a car to search for drugs. The car then ran him over as its two occupants fled. The slaying underscores the danger troopers face each day. Nashville and Memphis police require their officers to radio in when they make a stop. The Tennessee Highway Patrol needs to improve its communications system – one that has left troopers unnecessarily exposed for years, said R.L. Dowdy, who spent 32 years on the patrol before retiring a few years ago.