The Tennessee Highway Patrol’s hiring and promotion process is “corrupted” and “tainted” by political influence, unethical conduct, and lies used to manipulate the system to benefit those with political connections, says a Kroll Government Services report quoted by The Tennessean. The study concludes that the decades of politics in the agency have hurt both the patrol and Tennessee citizens. It paints a picture of the agency as a place where troopers – from the moment they walk in the door until the day they retire – are reminded that the quickest way to advance is through political connections, not skills or performance.
Troopers with higher ethical standards and higher test scores too often lose out on promotions to those with political connections, Kroll said. Senior staff appointments are understood to be given out by a “good ol’ boy network.” Kroll made more than 30 recommendations to Gov. Phil Bredesen and interim Safety Commissioner Gerald Nicely. Bredesen will implement several recommendations, particularly those that call for an overhaul of the hiring and promotion processes to make them more fair and open. Kroll was hired in December after The Tennessean ran a series of stories that documented the influence of politics on the patrol’s promotion process and other problems.