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Press Releases

THP Accepting Applications for Spring Citizens’ Trooper Academy

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security; January 26, 2015:

NASHVILLE— The Tennessee Highway Patrol is now accepting applications for the 2015 Citizens’ Trooper Academy in the spring. Classes will be held in both Nashville and Knoxville during the spring sessions.

The Nashville session is scheduled to begin Tuesday, March 10, while the Knoxville class will start on Thursday, March 12. Both sessions will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time weekly.

The academy, which consists of approximately 30 hours of training, is designed to develop a better understanding and awareness of the Tennessee Highway Patrol as well as its parent agency, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, in the community through a hands-on approach. Topics covered include investigations, special operations, homeland security and many other areas of the patrol.

Participants must be at least 21 years old, available to attend weekly three-hour sessions with no more than one absence, sign required waivers and agreements, and have no criminal history.

Applications are available on the departmental website at www.tn.gov/safety or you may request an application by emailing email.safety@tn.gov. Please be sure to indicate on your application whether you wish to attend the Nashville or Knoxville sessions.

Deadline for registration is February 11, 2015.  Applications must be returned by that date for processing.

For more information, call Sergeant Stan Hollandsworth at 615-251-6321 or Shannon Hall at 615-251-5170.

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Press Releases

Trooper Resigns from THP Following Domestic Assault Charge

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security; September 19, 2014:

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott announced Friday that a Tennessee state trooper in the Fall Branch District resigned from the department in lieu of termination following an internal investigation into an arrest on domestic assault charges.

The Johnson City Police Department charged Trooper Russel Holtsclaw, 28, with aggravated domestic assault on August 10 following a reported incident at his residence. The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) placed Holtsclaw on administrative leave that same day. The department’s Investigative Services Bureau opened an internal investigation into the incident. All departmental equipment including weapons, badges and commission card were secured pending the investigation.

The department’s internal investigation resulted in the decision to terminate Holtsclaw. However, on Friday Holtsclaw resigned employment in lieu of termination. He has been assigned as a trooper to the Fall Branch District in east Tennessee since joining the department in January 2012.

The criminal case against Holtsclaw is pending.

“Allegations of domestic violence are absolutely not tolerated in the Tennessee Highway Patrol,” Colonel Trott said. “Regardless of the outcome of the pending criminal case, our investigation concludes that this trooper clearly violated policies of the department and his behavior is unacceptable for anyone who wears the THP badge,” Trott stated.

“We will continue to act quickly to respond to any allegations of domestic assault, conduct thorough investigations, and swiftly discipline employees of this department who commit such acts of violence,” Commissioner Gibbons said. “The actions of this one trooper do not reflect those of the men and women of the Tennessee Highway Patrol,” he added.

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Press Releases

THP to Increase Patrols for Halloween

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security; October 29, 2013:

NASHVILLE —The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Colonel Tracy Trott announced today that State Troopers will plan for increased patrols and conduct a variety of enforcement plans to help ensure a safe Halloween for citizens across the state.

Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate children are four times as likely to be struck by a vehicle on Halloween as any other day. NHTSA also noted that 52 percent of all national fatalities occurring on Halloween night involve a drunk driver.

“We are urging motorists to pay attention to the road and don’t drive distracted or impaired. State Troopers will seek out and remove any aggressive or impaired drivers from our roadways to allow for a safe and happy Halloween,” Colonel Trott said.

Last year in Tennessee, three people were killed during the Halloween period between 6 p.m. on October 31 through 6 a.m., November 1. Two of those fatalities were alcohol-related. That compares to zero fatalities during the Halloween period in 2011.

As of October 28, there have been 66 pedestrian fatalities in Tennessee in 2013. That’s 15 more pedestrian deaths compared to this same time last year. The CDC reported that alcohol involvement – either for the driver or pedestrian – was reported in 47 percent of traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities nationwide.

According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), 115 child pedestrian fatalities occurred on Halloween over a 21-year period (1990-2010). That is more than twice the average number of 2.6 fatalities on other days of the year. The study also concluded it was particularly dangerous between the hours of 6:00-7:00 p.m.

In 2012, state troopers issued 328 speeding citations and arrested 13 individuals on suspicion of drunk driving on October 31.

This Halloween, the THP will conduct bar and tavern checks, sobriety checkpoints, and seat belt saturations across the state. Below are tips parents, children and motorists should keep in mind before heading this Halloween.

HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS

Tips for Motorists

  • Slow down. Watch for children walking on roads, medians and curbs.
  • Be extra alert when pulling in and out of driveways.
  • Be especially alert for children darting out from between parked vehicles and from behind bushes and shrubs. They’re excited and may not be paying attention.
  • Do not pass other vehicles that have stopped in the roadway. They could be dropping off children.
  • If you are driving to a Halloween party, put your mask on after you park the car.
  • Never drink and drive – tonight or any night. If you are partying, designate a driver.

Tips for Parents

  • Adults should accompany children at all times and supervise their “trick or treat” activities.
  • Teach children to “stop, look left-right-left, and listen” before they cross the street.
  • Instruct children to stay on sidewalks and to cross only at corners or crosswalks.
  • Use a flashlight and wear retro-reflective strips or patches on your clothing or costume to be more visible to motorists.
  • Be certain that the mask does not obstruct vision or hearing.
  • Ensure that costumes do not impede walking or driving ability.

Tips for Pedestrians (children and adults)

  • Require children to wear retro-reflective materials and carry a flashlight at dawn and dusk and in other low-light situations, such as rainy or foggy weather.
  • Before crossing a street, stop at the curb or edge of the road and look left, right and left again to be sure no cars are coming. Continue to check for traffic while on the street.
  • Walk – never run – from house to house or across the road.
  • Cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks.
  • When crossing at an intersection with a traffic light, be sure to watch for turning cars. Obey all pedestrian signals.
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever possible. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.
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Press Releases

THP Accepting Applications for Citizens’ Training Academies

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety; January 14, 2013:

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Highway Patrol is now accepting applications for the spring session of its Citizens’ Trooper Academy. For the first time, academies will be held in both Nashville and Memphis. The first session for the Nashville class is scheduled to begin Monday, March 11, 2013. Sessions will run from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. weekly. The Memphis class is scheduled to begin on Thursday, March 14, 2013. Sessions for this group will run from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. weekly.

The Citizens’ Trooper Academy, which consists of approximately 24-30 hours of training, is designed to develop a better understanding and awareness of the Tennessee Highway Patrol as well as its parent agency, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, in the community through a hands-on approach. Topics covered include investigations, special operations, homeland security and many other areas of the patrol.

Participants must be at least 21 years old, available to attend weekly three-hour sessions with no more than one absence, sign required waivers and agreements and have no criminal history.

Applications are available on the departmental website (www.tn.gov/safety), the THP Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tennesseehighwaypatrol), or citizens may request applications by sending an email message to email.safety@tn.gov. Applicants are asked to indicate whether they wish to attend the Nashville or Memphis sessions.

Deadline for registration is February 11, 2013. Applications must be returned by that date for processing.

For more information, contact Sergeant Stan Hollandsworth at 615-251-6321, Trooper Chris Dye at 615-232-2901, or Shannon Hall at 615-251-5170.

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Press Releases

THP to Motorists: Avoid Running Over Rutting Deer

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety; October 17, 2012: 

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Highway Patrol cautions motorists to watch out for deer on or near the roadways this fall season. An increase in deer-related crashes is likely during the months of October through December due to deer mating and hunting season.

“Deer pose a danger to motorists throughout the year, but especially in the fall,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said. “November is typically the worst month for deer-related crashes. It is important to exercise caution, slow down and stay alert in areas where deer are populated.”

In Tennessee, between 2007 and 2011, 9.2 percent of deer-related crashes occurred on interstate highways. In 2011, there were 5,644 deer-related crashes, including 285 that involved injuries and two that were fatal. That was up by 4.2 percent from 5,418 the previous year. However, since 2007, deer-related crashes in Tennessee have increased 5.9 percent.

Additionally, State Farm®, the nation’s leading auto insurer, estimates 1.09 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. That’s nine percent less than three years earlier.

The Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency suggest the following tips to help prevent deer-related crashes during peak mating and hunting seasons:

  • Remember that mating season puts deer on the move and deer tend to move at dawn and dusk.
  • Whenever you see deer cross the road, expect more to follow. Many times, the second or third deer crossing becomes the one that motorists hit.
  • Be attentive; drive defensively, constantly scanning the roadside, especially at daybreak and dusk.
  • Do not swerve to avoid contact with deer. This could cause the vehicle to flip or veer into oncoming traffic, causing a more serious crash. Swerving also can confuse the deer as to where to run.
  • When you spot a deer, slow down immediately. Proceed slowly until you pass that point.
  • If you do collide with a deer, never approach the injured animal. They are powerful and can cause bodily harm to a human. Report any deer collision, even if the damage is minor.

“Our agency appreciates the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s efforts to remind drivers to be aware of the increase of deer activity at this time of year,” Don King, TWRA Chief of Information and Education said.

In the event of a deer crash, move the vehicle as far off the road as possible, and dial *THP (*847) from an available cell phone for assistance.

The call will be connected to the nearest THP Communications Center and a State Trooper will be dispatched to the location.

Tennessee law allows deer killed in a collision to be taken and used as food, as long as you contact the nearest TWRA regional office to report the accident within 48 hours. For TWRA regional offices, visit the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org

Enclosed are statistics for deer-related crashes in Tennessee from 2007 – 2011. Additional data regarding deer-related crashes can be found at: http://www.tn.gov/safety/stats/CrashData/StatewideDeerCrashesByCounty.pdf

Deer Crashes Statewide by Month, 2007 – 2011
Crash Month 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 5 Yr Totals 5 Yr Average
January 413 417 353 320 428 1,931 386
February 292 270 304 275 345 1,486 297
March 279 288 252 334 276 1,429 286
April 256 248 314 301 301 1,420 284
May 289 310 354 386 369 1,708 342
June 397 369 363 385 374 1,888 378
July 365 292 269 317 272 1,515 303
August 345 293 246 226 275 1,385 277
September 346 278 216 306 288 1,434 287
October 588 599 594 660 589 3,030 606
November 1,035 1,230 1,348 1,292 1,317 6,222 1,244
December 724 610 707 616 810 3,467 693
Totals 5,329 5,204 5,320 5,418 5,644 26,915 5,383
Source: Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Research, Planning, and Development;
 16 Oct, 2012.
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Press Releases

THP, Marion Co. Sheriff’s Dept. Charge 6 in 2-year-long $1.8 M Cargo Theft Scheme

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety; October 8, 2012: 

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Highway Patrol Criminal Investigations Division (THP-CID), along with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, charged 6 individuals on Monday for an elaborate scheme of allegedly stealing tractor trailer loads of cargo worth $1.8 million over the last 2 years.

Investigators say that Jay Sanders, Monteagle, Tenn., and Gary Alto, Whitwell, Tenn., were employed by SCS Trucking in Whitwell. They were responsible for hauling loads of scrap metal from a company in Ashland City, Tenn. to South Pittsburg, Tenn. The two truck drivers allegedly devised a scheme in which they would pay off security guards at one plant and workers at another, and then divert the loads to Dodson Scrap Metal Yard in Whitwell. The owners of Dodson Scrap Metal Yard, Randall and Melissa Brown, allegedly would not document receiving the metal and would haul it on their own tractor trailer to a scrap metal dealer in Alabama for cash. The scheme has allegedly been ongoing since at least 2010.

Investigators charged Jay Sanders, Gary Alto, Randall Brown, Melissa Brown, James King, and Craig Meeks each with theft of property over $250,000. Theft over $250,000 is a class A felony which carries a standard sentence of 15 – 25 years in prison.

“Cargo theft is a nationwide issue with a significant impact on the United States economy. It is estimated that cargo crime accounts for a direct merchandise loss of $15 to $30 billion per year. Virtually all goods manufactured domestically and internationally are transported by truck and train within the continental U.S. Studies indicate that 80 percent of all cargo thefts are ‘inside jobs,’” stated Sergeant Matthew Minter with the THP-CID.

Jail booking photos of the suspects may be obtained from Marion County Sheriff’s Department.

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Press Releases

Former State Trooper Indicted on DUI, Illegal Handgun Possession

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety; August 8, 2012: 

NASHVILLE — The Department of Safety and Homeland Security today announced that a former state trooper assigned to the Cookeville District had been indicted by a Putnam County grand jury on criminal charges.

Jonathan Reed was indicted for driving under the influence and possession of a handgun while under the influence. Both charges are class A misdemeanors and carry possible sentences of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail. Reed was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department.

The indictment stems from a criminal investigation into an incident on March 27 in Putnam County. Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott terminated Reed in June for “gross misconduct” following an internal investigation into the incident. Reed did not appeal the termination and did not seek a minimum due process hearing.

The internal investigative file will remain closed to the public until the criminal case against Reed has concluded.

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Press Releases

State Cops Cracking Down on Motorists ‘to Prevent Crashes from Happening’

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety; July 26, 2012:

Nashville, TN – In an effort to save lives, the Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO) is again working across the state to crack down on traffic safety violators including impaired drivers, seat belt violators, distracted drivers, and speeders, during its “More Cops. More Stops.” campaign this July 26-29.

“With school starting just around the corner, many people are out enjoying the last of their summer vacations,” said Tennessee Highway Patrol, Colonel Tracy Trott. “Too often, people get caught up in the fun and break traffic safety laws, putting themselves and others at risk. We believe this special enforcement push will make our roadways safer for everyone, and we hope the message stays with people year-round.”

Tennessee is one of two states teaming with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on this important national demonstration project to test the effectiveness of a new combined high visibility enforcement campaign.

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said the statistics are alarming, and that risky behaviors claim too many lives in Tennessee.

“We know that wearing seatbelts is the single most effective way to protect people in vehicle crashes, so we will be watching closely to make sure everyone is buckling up,” said Commissioner Schroer. “But we also know that drinking and driving, texting while driving, and speeding are contributing to an increase in fatalities. Our goal is to prevent crashes from happening in the first place.”

More than 1,000 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in Tennessee motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2010, 58 percent of whom were NOT wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash. Twenty-seven percent of Tennessee’s fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involved an alcohol impaired driver. Additionally, 22 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes on Tennessee highways involved drivers or motorcycle operators with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 (the legal limit) or above at the time of the deadly crash. Twenty-two percent died from speeding-related crashes.

“Our statistics show that young adult males, ages 18 to 34, are most likely to practice high-risk behaviors while driving, such as drinking and driving and not wearing seat belts,” said Kendell Poole, Director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office.

Of those in that age group who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in Tennessee, 35 percent were involved in an alcohol-impaired driving crash; 62 percent of 18-to 34-year-old passenger vehicle occupants killed were NOT wearing their seat belts; and 33 percent were involved in a speeding-related crash.

Distracted driving is another issue that state and local law enforcement will be on the lookout for since according to NHTSA, it claimed nearly 3,100 lives and led to an estimated 419,000 people injured nationally in 2010.

“When you look at the data, it’s clear that we have to do something to change people’s behavior on the roads,” said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. “It’s simple—don’t engage in risky behaviors that put your life and the lives of others at risk—especially drinking and driving, not wearing a seat belt, texting while driving or speeding. Remember, More Cops. More Stops. this summer. We will be watching.”

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Press Releases

Fmr. State Trooper Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security; July 26, 2012: 

NASHVILLE—The District Attorney for the 13th Judicial District has informed the Department of Safety and Homeland Security that former state trooper Wade Williams pleaded guilty today to five criminal counts stemming from a sexual assault investigation.

Williams pleaded guilty to two (2) counts of aggravated statutory rape, two (2) counts of attempt to commit especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and one (1) count of sexual exploitation of a minor. Williams was sentenced as a “child sexual predator” on the aggravated statutory rape charges. The total sentence is an effective eight years with two years being served day for day. Williams would be eligible for parole after serving 30 percent of the remainder of the sentence.

Williams waived his right to a criminal indictment last April and was formally charged by a criminal information in Pickett County. The charges were the result of an investigation conducted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division and District Attorney General Randy York’s office. The case originated from a complaint received and initially investigated internally by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s Investigative Services Bureau.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol terminated Williams in January. Williams resigned in lieu of termination and waived his right to any civil service appeals.

“The guilty plea entered today by former state trooper Wade Williams brings closure to this unfortunate incident and, hopefully, some relief for the victim and the victim’s family. Williams has been sentenced accordingly, he will serve time in prison, and will be placed on the sex offender registry. The actions of Wade Williams do not represent the men and women of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and all those who put their lives on the line to serve and protect the citizens of Tennessee. No one is above the law, and this type of behavior will not be tolerated by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.

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Press Releases

THP Hosting 10-Week ‘Citizens’ Trooper Academy’

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety; July 23, 2012: 

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Highway Patrol is now accepting applications for the fall session of its Citizens’ Trooper Academy. The first session is scheduled to begin on Monday, September 10, 2012. Sessions will run from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. weekly.

The 10-week academy, which consists of approximately 30 hours of training, is designed to develop a better understanding and awareness of the Tennessee Highway Patrol as well as its parent agency, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, in the community through a hands-on approach. Topics covered include investigations, patrol, homeland security and many other areas of the patrol.

Participants must be at least 21 years old, available to attend weekly three-hour sessions with no more than one absence, sign required waivers and agreements and have no criminal history.

Applications are available on the departmental website at www.tn.gov/safety or you may request an application by emailing email.safety@tn.gov

Deadline for registration is August 10, 2012. Applications must be returned by that date for processing.

The fall application accompanies this release.

For more information, call Sergeant Stan Hollandsworth at 615-251-5173, Trooper Chris Dye at 615-232-2901, or Shannon Hall at 615-251-5170.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s mission is (www.tennessee.gov/safety) to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public. The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.