More on State Patrol Name Change

By Erik Schelzig
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Highway Patrol’s leadership says it wants to rename the agency the Tennessee State Patrol because its role has evolved beyond traffic enforcement in the years since it was established in 1929.
But Safety Department public records requested by The Associated Press show that in the 2009-2010 budget year, just $8.4 million, or 9 percent of the THP’s total budget, was dedicated to areas unrelated to patrolling state highways, such as the governor’s protective detail, Capitol security and criminal investigations.
Safety Department spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said those figures don’t give a full picture of the agency’s non-traffic enforcement activities, because the balance of the THP’s spending includes areas like administers and dispatchers who have multiple responsibilities. The department wouldn’t be able to give a more specific breakdown without conducting a detailed study, she said.

The name change is supported by the THP leadership, but is not officially endorsed by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration. The bill (SB1494) passed the Senate unanimously last month, but hit a speed bump on the House floor on Thursday.
Several House members said they were concerned the name change would be a precursor to creating a state police, while others questioned whether it is realistic that the rebranding wouldn’t cost any additional money.
Freshman Rep. Don Miller, R-Morristown and one of the bill’s main sponsors, said the costs could be absorbed within the department’s existing budget, and that there’s no aim at changing the overall mission of the THP.
“I know there have been concerns that there may be a slippery slope here,” he said. “One lesson I’ve learned since I’ve been here in the House is that if there’s anything about a slippery slope and changing things, it’s an uphill slippery slope.”
Rep. Scotty Campbell on the House floor voiced his opposition to the measure.
“There’s better ways to spend this money,” said Campbell, R-Mountain City. “Why not use the money to put an additional Tennessean to work, an additional trooper on the road, a four wheel drive unit on the road?”
Rep. Barrett Rich, R-Somerville and a former state trooper, said the name change would reflect that the THP “does many things besides work wrecks and write tickets.”
After Thursday’s floor debate, the bill was sent back for further consideration in the House Finance Subcommittee.
According to the Safety Department, out of the THP’s $91 million budget in 2009-2010, designated spending on non-traffic enforcement areas included:
–Executive Protection $1.9 million
–Special operations: $1.6 million.
–Capitol security: $1.5 million.
–Criminal Investigative Division: $1.5 million.
–Office of Professional Responsibility: $820,700.
–Aviation: $573,000.
–Governor’s Marijuana Task Force: $518,500.

2 thoughts on “More on State Patrol Name Change

  1. WhitesCreek

    “The department wouldn’t be able to give a more specific breakdown without conducting a detailed study…”
    Isn’t there someone in accounting who could tell you who you wrote checks to?

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