Press Releases

TN Dept. of Treasury Alert: Metro Nashville Teacher Consolidated Retirement Data Stolen

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Treasury; December 14, 2013:

The Tennessee Department of Treasury is informing active Metro Nashville teachers about a possible theft of personal information. The department determined on Friday that Steven Hunter, a former Department of Treasury employee, previously sent an e-mail with a Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System file that contained personal information, including Social Security numbers, full names, dates of birth and home addresses of 6,300 active Metro Nashville teachers to a personal e-mail address at an unencrypted personal computer. It should be noted that the personal information of retired teachers in Metro Nashville and active and retired teachers outside of Metro Nashville was not included in the file that was potentially compromised.

Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. immediately notified law enforcement officials, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The TBI took swift action and seized Mr. Hunter’s personal computer and other electronic devices Friday evening at his home. The investigation by TBI is ongoing.

It appears that the contents of the active teacher file have not been disseminated to other people.

“This is a situation we take extremely seriously in the Treasury Department,” Treasurer Lillard said. “This former employee clearly violated Tennessee law and the Treasury Department’s privacy policy by downloading information that is clearly confidential under federal and state law onto an unencrypted computer. I want to thank the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and its special agents for their quick and decisive action which has clearly protected numerous Tennessee citizens.

“We believe this is an isolated incident,” Treasurer Lillard said. “We continually stress to our employees that they must follow department policies and procedures in handling sensitive information collected for the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System. This individual violated the public trust by downloading information to his personal e-mail account, regardless of his intentions.”

The Tennessee Treasury Department will continue to work with law enforcement officials on this matter and will notify all the potentially affected individuals to the extent required by federal law and Tennessee law.

Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

TBI Recommends Better ‘Deadly Force’ Police Training

Tennessee law enforcement officers fired their weapons a total of 234 times in the line of duty during a five year period, said a recently released Tennessee Bureau of Investigation study recommending improvements in training.

Tennessee Law Enforcement Officers: A Study in Deadly Force and Shooting Incidents” was conducted to investigate the impact of these incidents on individual officers, the departments and the law enforcement community, according to the authors. It didn’t address impacts on communities and other involved parties.

The research was gathered through interviews, surveys and roundtable with officers and agencies involved in shootings. Specific comments, or facts about the shooting incidents were not disclosed to allow the officers and departments to remain anonymous.

Of the responding agencies, 206 were police departments, 75 were sheriff departments, and the remaining 14 were agencies such as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Highway Patrol.

About 50 percent of survey respondents indicated a need for better use-of-force training.

Annual deadly force training was reportedly conducted by 72 percent of the survey-responding agencies, semi-annual training by 14 percent and seven percent reported reviewing their policies quarterly. Annual firearms training was conducted by 57 percent of the agencies, while 26 percent train semi-annually and 12 percent bimonthly or quarterly.

Among the suggestions from officers, better methods are needed for dealing with mentally ill suspects, which was identified as a growing problem for officers.

A desire to have more local law-enforcement agency control over the disposal of seized weapons was also expressed by departments. While some departments sell or trade seized weapons, other officials said they felt they should do more to keep the weapons off the streets, though participants weren’t eager to suggest stricter gun laws, according to the study.

“Although participants in several regions were loath to advocate for any stricter gun laws, some participants resented the fact that current state law does not permit them to destroy seized weapons,” reported the study. “Some jurisdictions have no problem with selling or trading seized weapons while others, mostly representing larger cities, said that they would rather destroy guns than risk having a gun that they had sold be used in a subsequent crime. A law could be proposed which would allow some discretion in how seized weapons are disposed of based on the situation in the local community.”

Several departments reported that their inability under current state law to destroy seized weapons has caused them to waste storage space “stockpiling” seized weapons.

The Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System reports more than three-and-a-half million offenses committed in Tennessee during the time period of 2007-2011. Suspects used a gun against officers in 764 incidents, and 234 incidents involved police using a weapon against suspects, according to the study.

Of the 295 responding agencies, 84 reported having “at least one officer involved shooting,” defined in the report as “incidents where officers pulled a weapon or actually fired their firearm against another person.”

One agency had 64 shooting incidents, one had 39 incidents, one had 13, and another had six; five agencies had four incidents, three had three incidents, 11 had two incidents, 65 agencies had one incident and 207 had no incidents to report.

Although no impairment was reported in 118 incidents, drug impairment was reported on 32 of the occasions, alcohol impairment on 25 occasions and mental health issues were identified in another 25 incidents.

The TBI survey also found that “a disproportionate number of minorities…are involved in deadly force encounters with police.” It reported that “of the 234 incidents reported by Tennessee Law Enforcement agencies, the suspects were Caucasian in 120 incidents (51.3 percent), African American in 108 (46.7 percent) incidents and no answer in six occasions.”

Lawsuits against officers or agencies were filed in 20 cases, and the study offered no further information on any incidents involving legal action or whether or not the shootings were later determined to have been justified. The study did not report how many of those incidents resulted in injuries or deaths.

The TBI next intends to review training available to law enforcement agencies to identify the best methods to improve training. The study also recommends agencies consider upgrading “media relations” training to improve communications with the general public.

Press Releases

TBI Releases First Study on TN Law Enforcement Use of Deadly Force

Press release from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; October 7, 2013:

NASHVILLE- The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today released its first-ever study on law enforcement’s use of deadly force and shooting incidents in Tennessee while in the line of duty. Different from the annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed or Assaulted (LEOKA) report, this report takes an in-depth look at officers who have used force or deadly force with a weapon while protecting Tennesseans and the effect that critical incident had on the officers, their departments and their communities.

The mixed methods research study took a three pronged approach to the issues. First, law enforcement agencies across the state were surveyed about the number of times officers within their departments used deadly force between 2007 and 2011. Second, round table discussions were held where law enforcement leaders provided input on trends, causes, policy and costs of the use of firearms by officers in their respective regions of the state. Lastly, researchers interviewed a dozen officers who had been involved in a shooting incident to gain the perspective of those officers and publish eight of those summarized interviews as case studies.

Law Enforcement Use of Deadly Force 2007-2011 Quick Facts

  • Of the 295 agencies that responded to the survey, 206 were police departments, 75 were sheriff’s departments and the remaining 14 were state departments.
  • Eighty-four agencies experienced at least one officer involved shooting between 2007 and 2011 with a total of 234 officer involved shootings.
  • The majority of the shooting incidents at 140 or approximately 60 percent were large departments with more than 101 sworn personnel. Both small and medium sized agencies each reported about 20 percent of the shooting incidents.
  • Two hundred and seven agencies reported having no officer involved shootings during the time period.
  • Thirty-five of the officers involved in shooting incidents are no longer employed in law enforcement.
  • Seventy-two percent of all agencies received deadly force training at least annually.
  • Of the 234 incidents reported lawsuits were filed in 20 cases and were evenly distributed between small, medium and large agencies.
  • One hundred and sixty-four agencies reported having mandatory post shooting counseling provided to officers.

The study reveals several factors contributing to the use of deadly force incidents including mentally ill subjects, drugs, gangs and the disposal of seized weapons. Another common theme is the importance of firearms training including judgmental training to the law enforcement community as a whole. To read the study in its entirety click here.

Press Releases

TN Comptroller Report: Gibson City Recorder Stole Funds, Gave Herself Insurance Upgrade

Press release from the Office of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury; September 24, 2013:

The former city recorder in the small West Tennessee town of Gibson stole more than $24,000 and gave herself an unauthorized upgrade to her health insurance, the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations has found. Auditors from the Comptroller’s office worked in cooperation with agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on the case.

While working as city recorder, Shawnda West withheld at least $24,267 in city funds for her own personal use. Also, she upgraded her insurance coverage to include her dependents, even though the town’s board of mayor and aldermen had only approved coverage for her. The difference in the value of coverage was $1,583.

West was fired from her job with the city and faces criminal charges.

The Division of Investigations released a report on the case today, which is available online at

The report also highlighted other flaws in Gibson’s money-handling and record-keeping procedures. Specifically, the report notes that West was given sole responsibility for collecting, receipting, recording, depositing and reconciling all city collections – which meant there was no one in a position to oversee her work and possibly detect the theft. Also, collections of city funds weren’t always promptly deposited in the bank and the city did not prepare daily reports on cash collections.

“Fraud, waste or abuse of public money simply cannot be tolerated,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Even in small communities, it’s important to set up some checks and balances in money-handling procedures so no single individual is in a position to improperly take money without being detected. I am encouraged that Gibson city officials have indicated that they have taken steps to correct that problem.”

To report suspected cases of fraud, waste or abuse of public funds in Tennessee, call the Comptroller’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-232-5454 or make a report online by visiting

Press Releases

Laws to Combat Human Trafficking Take Effect July 1

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; June 27, 2013:

(NASHVILLE, TN), June 27, 2013 — July 1 marks the implementation of a wide variety of new laws in Tennessee as the 2013-2014 fiscal year is set to begin. This includes twelve of the thirteen new laws, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), to combat the growing problem of human trafficking.

Kelsey said the legislation builds on human trafficking laws passed in 2011 and 2012 after a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) report spotlighted the problem. The TBI report showed 73 of the state’s 95 counties have reported the crime within their borders. The study also showed that sixty-two counties reported the presence of sex trafficking of minors.

“This is a widespread problem in Tennessee, and is especially disturbing as many victims of human trafficking are children,” said Chairman Kelsey. “The legislation set to take effect on Monday enhances penalties against those who promote or patronize the illegal act, gives more rights to human trafficking victims, updates our laws to help ensure offenders cannot escape prosecution, and provides that this crime is included in the list of gang-related offenses. It also provides for a Task Force to make sure we are combating the problem.”

A 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported, “Gangs are increasingly engaging in non-traditional gang-related crime, such as alien smuggling, human trafficking, and prostitution. Gang involvement in alien smuggling, human trafficking, and prostitution is increasing primarily due to their higher profitability and lower risks of detection and punishment than that of drug and weapons trafficking.”

“Criminal street gangs have embraced human trafficking as a lucrative revenue source,” added Kelsey. “Sex trafficking now rivals narcotic sales as a major source of revenue for many gangs.”

Provisions of the new laws include:

Organized Crime

  • adds trafficking for commercial sex acts to the list of gang-related offenses;
  • adds trafficking for commercial sex acts, promoting prostitution, patronizing prostitution, solicitation of a minor, soliciting the sexual exploitation of a minor and exploitation of a minor by electronic means to the list of criminal acts that can constitute a charge of unlawful debts;

Minors / Victims

  • adds aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, trafficking for commercial sex acts, patronizing prostitution and promoting prostitution, to the list of offenses for which a minor or a law enforcement officer posing as a minor might be solicited;
  • prohibits defendants from using consent as a defense in the cases of solicitation, sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor;
  • prohibits the lack of knowledge of a person’s age as a defense against the charges of patronizing prostitution or soliciting the sexual exploitation of a minor;
  • creates grounds for the termination of parental rights when a parent or guardian is convicted of trafficking for commercial sex acts.
  • allows children who are victims of trafficking for commercial sex acts and patronizing prostitution the opportunity to testify outside of the courtroom by using a two-way closed circuit television;
  • extends the statute of limitations for minor victims from ten to fifteen years after the victim has turned 18 to give victims more time to make that realization;
  • provides defendants or victims of sex trafficking restitution of special damages that include medical- and counseling-related expenses the victim incurred as a result of sex trafficking and other offenses;


  • increases the charge of promoting the prostitution of a minor from a Class E felony to a Class A or B felony;
  • creates a new Class D felony offense for promoting travel for prostitution; and

Task Force

  • creates a Human Trafficking Task Force charged with the duty of creating a plan for the prevention of human trafficking within the state.
Press Releases

Haslam Signs Bill Specifying Definition of ‘Criminal Gang Offense’

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; June 26, 2013:

MEMPHIS – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today held a ceremonial bill signing in Memphis for legislation that rewrites and simplifies the criminal gang offense enhanced punishment law.

Gang-related crimes are of increasing concern across Tennessee, in the state’s rural and urban communities, and the bill, HB 196/SB 202, changes the definition of “criminal gang offense” from a vague and broad definition to a specific list of offenses that will make it easier for prosecutors to seek a greater sentence.

“The good news is the number of reported violent crimes in Tennessee is decreasing. Yet, we continue to have one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation,” Haslam said. “This legislation gives prosecutors another tool to fight criminal gang activity and help make Tennessee safer.”

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, through May of this year murders are down almost 22 percent, robberies have decreased almost 17 percent, and aggravated assaults have declined more than 20 percent compared to 2010.

The offenses included in the legislation are crimes that Tennessee communities combat every day, such as robbery, carjacking, and drug possession with intent to sell, among others. Under this new law, if one of the defined offenses is committed, prosecutors must also prove the defendant committed the crime as a part of a criminal gang and must prove the defendant is a member of the criminal gang to enhance the sentence.

The gang enhanced-sentencing bill is one of several pieces of legislation introduced by the administration to address the challenge of gang violence in Tennessee. Other laws enacted since 2011 create tougher sentences for certain types of crimes committed by three or more acting in concert, tougher sentences for convicted felons who persist in illegally possessing guns, and mandatory sentences for repeat domestic violence offenders where physical injury is involved.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) and State Rep. Barrett Rich (R-Hickory Withe) sponsored the legislation in the General Assembly.

Press Releases

TBI Report Shows 12 Percent Decrease in School Crimes

Press release from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; May 9, 2013:

Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today released its annual study dedicated to crime in Tennessee’s schools. Produced by TBI’s Crime Statistics Unit, the study spans a three-year period between 2010 and 2012 and is based on crime data submitted by Tennessee law enforcement agencies to the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS).

The reported number of crimes that occurred at schools decreased by 12 percent from 2011 to 2012 with 12,477 offenses reported in 2011 to 10,980 offenses reported in 2012. Examination of 2010 through 2012 data revealed a 16.5 percent drop in crime reported at schools over a three year period. This report is based on incidents submitted by law enforcement agencies and excludes offenses reported by colleges and universities. Those statistics are compiled in TBI’s “Crime on Campus” report that was released earlier this year.

“School Crimes Report” Quick Facts

  • Simple assault was the most frequently reported crime at 3,956 or 36 percent of offenses.
  • Of the 3,930 weapons reported at schools, 82 were firearms.
  • Crimes against persons made up the largest majority, nearly 50 percent, of reported school crimes.
  • More crimes occurred on Thursday than any other day of the week and the month of February had the highest frequency of school crime.
  • 47% of the time, the relationship between the offender and victim was acquaintance.
  • Marijuana greatly outnumbered all other seized drugs at school in 2012 accounting for nearly 75 percent of drug seizures.

It is important to understand the characteristics surrounding school crime and its offenders and victims. This understanding will help schools, policy makers, law enforcement and the public learn how to better combat crime that occurs at these institutions. To view the “School Crimes Report” for 2011 in its entirety, click here.

Press Releases

Legislation Seeks to End Statute of Limitations when DNA Evidence Available

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; April 4, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Under legislation already approved by the Tennessee Senate and scheduled for a floor vote in the House of Representatives, prosecutors will be able to continue their practice of proceeding with criminal charges against perpetrators even when they can’t be captured or even identified by name — as long as the individual’s unique DNA profile is known.

At a news conference attended by leading prosecutors and the Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Mark Green, M.D., (R-Clarksville) and Rep. Ryan Haynes (R-14th Dist.), said the measure lets prosecutors “stop the clock” on the statute of limitations, the time limit by which criminal actions must be commenced.

The measure received unanimous approval by the Senate on Monday, April 1, and is now scheduled for a vote next week in the House of Representatives.

“This bill sends lawbreakers a clear message that Tennessee will use every available technology to track you down and bring you to justice — no matter how long it takes,” said Dr. Green, an emergency room physician who routinely gathers DNA evidence. “It helps keep Tennessee’s laws up to date with advances in medicine and science.”

“This legislation is a major step forward in making sure those people who commit the most egregious of crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” stated Rep. Haynes. “I am proud of this legislation and thank every single person and organization involved in this project for working towards a safer Tennessee.”

The legislation codifies the practice used by 20th District Attorney General Torry Johnson in the case of Robert Jason Burdick, the so-called “Wooded Rapist,” whose crimes spanned more than a decade. His case was kept alive because a piece of skin he left at the scene of one of his earliest crimes provided law enforcement DNA evidence linking him to the crime.

“Even though the defendant in this case wasn’t taken into custody until several years after the crime, we were able to preserve the case through the DNA that was collected” at the time, noted Johnson in a statement. “The use of DNA as a way of identifying defendants and preventing the statute of limitations from running will help bring people to justice.”

On appeal, the Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed that prosecutors can properly commence a criminal action, effectively tolling the Statute of Limitations, in cases where the suspect’s unique DNA profile is known.

Both Dr. Green and Rep. Haynes praised the work of Johnson and Assistant District Roger Moore, who prosecuted the case.

“The ‘Wooded Rapist’ case shows the real potential of DNA evidence,” said Dr. Green. “The painstaking work of police and medical personnel to retrieve and preserve the DNA samples were rewarded when, years later, the perpetrator was finally identified — but it took the persistence and creativity of skilled prosecutors to bring him to justice. We want all Tennessee prosecutors to have these tools at their disposal.”

“Receiving justice for victims should not have a deadline,” said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn, “especially when there’s DNA evidence available that could lead to solving a crime.”

“Laws need to be updated to keep up with technology and this legislation does just that,” Gwyn added. “There’s no reason a violent crime should go unsolved when you have DNA that could identify the perpetrator in the future.”

Senate sponsors of the bill, in addition to Green are: Senators Ketron, Finney, Bowling, Burks, Campfield, Haile, McNally, Norris, Stevens, and Tracy. House sponsors of the bill, in addition to Haynes are: Representatives Lamberth, Rogers, Weaver, Shipley, Hardaway, Rich, Watson, Parkinson, Faison, Lundberg, Travis, Fitzhugh, Camper, White M, Shepard, Eldridge and Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson.

Press Releases

TBI Indicts 7 in Conspiracy to Smuggle Drugs into Union Co. Jail

Press release from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; March 24, 2013:

Union County, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation presented its case to the Union County grand jury this week which resulted in the indictments of seven individuals for providing drugs or assisting in the introduction of the drugs into the Union County Jail.

Union County Jail inmates provided information to jail officials that drugs were illegally provided to an inmate in the jail who later died at Tennova Hospital in Knoxville. An autopsy performed on the deceased inmate failed to determine that the drugs were the cause of death. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, after conducting an investigation into the matter, obtained indictments against seven individuals for either providing the drugs or assisting in the introduction of the drugs into the penal facility.

Allen Wilkerson, 48, and Dakota Kidd, 20, were indicted on five separate counts of Conspiracy to Deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV, Conspiracy to Introduce Contraband into a Penal Facility, Introduction of Contraband into a Penal Facility and Possession of Contraband in a Penal Facility. Sheridan Brogdon, 29, Albert Allen, 31, Robin Wilkerson, 43, Cregory Thatcher, 26, and Johnny Johnson, 32, were all indicted on six separate counts of Conspiracy to Deliver Schedule II and Schedule IV, Conspiracy to Introduce Contraband into a Penal Facility, Introduction of Contraband into a Penal Facility and Delivery of Schedule II and Schedule IV.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals and Union County Sheriff’s Office affected the arrest of these seven individuals.

The 8th Judicial District Attorney and the Union County Sheriff’s Office requested that TBI investigate the incident.

Press Releases

TBI Arrests Smith Co. Man for Trading Child Pornography

Press release from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; August 3, 2012: 

Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has arrested a Smith County, Tenn. man for sexually exploiting a minor and is continuing to investigate him. He could face additional charges.

Doug Clemmons, 51, of Carthage, Tenn. was arrested at his home last evening and charged with one count of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor after exchanging child pornography with another individual. TBI agents executed a search warrant at his home located at 103 Lebanon Road in Carthage, Tenn. to gather additional evidence in the case against him after receiving information that he was engaged in illegal activities involving a minor. He was booked into the Smith County Jail without bond.