NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Highway Patrol is demoting a captain and recommending a five-day suspension for a sergeant after the agency says the two falied to properly report an incident involving a state trooper last month.
The state Department of Safety and Homeland Security said Thursday that Col. Tracy Trott moved to demote David Allred from captain to lieutenant of the Cookeville District and recommended suspension for Sgt. Keven Norris for violating department policy.
The department said in a news release that internal investigators found that Allred and Norris failed to properly report an incident involving Trooper Jonathan Reed on March 27. The district attorney found no evidence of criminal activity by Allred or Norris.
Details of the incident were not disclosed, but the release said Reed is on approved medical leave.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Occupy Nashville protesters say they will continue challenging a new law intended to evict them from their camp near the state Capitol even though a fellow protester wasn’t arrested during enforcement of the law early Monday morning.
The law, signed by Gov. Bill Haslam, prohibits camping on state property that is not specifically designated for it.
Christopher Humphrey, 24, was maintaining his vigil at the group’s camp on War Memorial Plaza when he said about 20 state troopers came onto the plaza around 4 a.m. Monday.
Humphrey said he was asked to come out of his tent. When he did, he said he stood in front of the tent and extended his arms to be handcuffed.
“The officer very carefully grabbed my arm, walked me about four paces … and said that I wasn’t being arrested,” Humphrey said. “That was disappointing to me because I knew that I was going to be arrested.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state has announced an agreement with Motorola Solutions Inc. for a statewide radio system for state troopers.
Under $39.2 million appropriated by the General Assembly, radios will be upgraded in the Tennessee Highway Patrol Chattanooga, Fall Branch and Knoxville districts. It’s the first phase of the project replacing a system more than 30 years old.
Officials said it would help troopers communicate with authorities in Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
THP Col. Tracy Trott said the lack of a reliable communication system has been an issue for troopers for decades.
Officials said the new system also will help communications between troopers and similar Motorola radio
Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The state Department of General Services billed Occupy Nashville $1,045 to provide two troopers for security the night before they began arresting the protesters and clearing their encampment.
The invoice was part of a public records request to the department from The Associated Press.
Protester Dorsey Malina said she was one of a group that met with General Services Commissioner Steve Cates on Oct. 26 over their concerns about security on the plaza.
There is some disagreement about what happened at that meeting. Malina said a trooper who had been making the rounds of the plaza at night suddenly stopped showing up and protesters wanted to know why.
They were told the state could not police their encampment and they would have to pay for security, she said.
Jennifer Donnals, a spokeswoman with the Safety Department, said troopers never stopped patrolling the plaza and Safety officials who attended the meeting do not recall protesters ever raising that concern. They were concerned about safety, she said, so Cates suggested they hire security.
Both sides say the protesters agreed to hire the troopers. On Oct. 27 the protesters received a bill for the services of two troopers from 10:30 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. at a rate of $55 per hour.
State troopers and Metro police officers conducted undercover operations in order to infiltrate Occupy Nashville protesters in the days leading up to the controversial arrests last month, according to records reviewed by The Tennessean.
Responding to increasing reports of illegal and lewd behavior among Occupy Nashville protesters, Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers dressed in street clothes and mingled among the crowd, according to the documents.
Unmarked vehicles also made regular rounds of the public square above the Legislative Plaza office building, where the protests have taken place every day since early October. Occupy Nashville protesters, like their national counterparts in Occupy Wall Street, oppose undue corporate influence on government.
An email from Department of Safety and Homeland Security Assistant Commissioner David Purkey instructed two officers to wear “blend in clothing” for the operation.
Occupy Nashville spokeswoman Dorsey Malina said protesters were aware of the undercover officers because they did a poor job of blending in. “We knew that there were certain people here that were probably undercover.” Malina said she was unsurprised to learn of the undercover efforts.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Susan Bosserman of Harrisonburg, Va., is getting ready to throw two suitcases and a packed cooler into her 2006 silver Honda Accord for a July 4 weekend trip to East Tennessee.
She and husband Fred will be driving six hours to Crossville for a family reunion, and then on to Pigeon Forge in the Smoky Mountains. On the agenda: Hiking, fishing, canoeing “and a lot of food cleanup.”
The two will join an estimated 619,500 Tennesseans who’ll be on the road over the long holiday weekend.
“We’ll be aware of the state troopers,” she said. “And we hope others are too.”
The troopers, in fact, will be out in force. A statement from the Tennessee Highway Patrol said there will be “saturation patrols as well as sobriety and driver license checkpoints across the state.”
Three hundred and seventeen troopers will be working Friday, 270 on Saturday, 266 on Sunday and 283 on Monday.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An East Tennessee tea partier says his comment prompted a Republican lawmaker to remove him and others from his office over a contentious anti-terrorism bill.
William Coley told The Associated Press on Monday that he was among several representatives of interfaith groups that went to the office of Republican Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny of Tullahoma last week.
Matheny is the House sponsor of legislation that would authorize the governor and attorney general to designate an entity “a domestic terrorist” or “a foreign terrorist organization.” Opponents fear some organizations might be unfairly targeted, particularly Muslims.
Coley said he told Matheny that he was losing conservative support because of the bill and that he might not be re-elected. He said the lawmaker became angry and had a state trooper remove him and the others.
For background on this, see previous post.
UPDATE: The News Sentinel has a more detailed interview with Coley HERE.
By Lucas Johnson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The House sponsor of an anti-terrorist bill that has outraged Muslims is being criticized for asking state troopers to remove representatives of an interfaith group from his office who wanted to discuss the legislation.
The amended proposal by Republican Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny of Tullahoma mirrors a federal law that seeks to prevent support for terrorist acts.
The original proposal sought to make it a felony to follow some versions of the Islamic code known as Shariah, but the measure was later amended to strip out any reference to a specific religion.
Muslims still believe the proposal demonizes them and want it withdrawn altogether. When opponents of the bill went to Matheny’s office this week, state troopers were summoned to his office by one of his staffers, Department of Safety spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said.
“One trooper walked to the office, asked the people in the office to leave, and they complied with no problems,” said Donnals, adding that no one was arrested and no formal incident report was filed.
When asked by The Associated Press about the incident, Matheny said “no comment.” He has also declined to discuss previous questions about the bill.
By Eric Schelzig
NASHVILLE, Tenn.– State troopers want to drop the word ‘highway’ from their agency’s name and become known as the Tennessee State Patrol.
The Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday unanimously advanced a measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Steve Southerland of Morristown to a full floor vote after receiving assurances that the change would not be a step toward creating a state police force.
The Tennessee Blue Book notes that the “Tennessee Highway Patrol’s primary responsibility is traffic enforcement,” but Col. Tracy Trott told the panel that the name change would better reflect activities that also include riot squads, bomb detection units and SWAT teams.
“It’s something that I think better depicts a modern state law enforcement agency,” the THP commander said.
Trott said the proposal did not originate with Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, but added that Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons “does not object” to the proposal.