Responding to allegations of cronyism, cover-ups, and promotions tied to campaign contributions in the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Tennessee finance chief has hired a national consulting firm to help reform the troubled agency, The Tennessean reports. New York-based Kroll Inc. has played key roles in reforming the Los Angeles and Detroit police departments, and recently helped implement major changes in the Pennsylvania state police after a sex-harassment scandal. The firm may be paid $100,000-$200,000.
One of the firm’s top officials, Michael Shmerling, is a five-figure donor to Gov. Phil Bredesen’s campaign efforts. hmerling and his wife donated $10,000 to Phil Bredesen’s 2002 race for governor, records show. He donated another $2,500 to Bredesen in January 2004. State Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz said he was unaware that Shmerling was still employed with Kroll. Goetz said he made his decision to hire the firm with an eye toward getting experts to assist the new head of the Safety Department as quickly as possible. The top three officials in the Department of Safety were forced out last week. Bredesen tapped long-time ally Gerald Nicely, state transportation commissioner, to fix the battered agency. The governor has given Nicely a 60-day deadline to do the job.