law enforcement

State trooper didn’t check inside wreck; body found later by tow truck driver

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has suspended a sergeant for two days without pay after he failed to find a man’s body in a wrecked minivan he didn’t “inspect or inventory,” reports the News Sentinel.

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Legislature OKs making officer-involved shooting probes public (if DA approves)

News release from House Democratic Caucus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee House of Representatives has voted to make TBI investigative records around officer-involved shooting deaths public. Last week, the Tennessee Senate approved the bill unanimously. Senate Bill 1039 and House Bill 277 is sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, and Representative G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis.

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Sheriff pleads guilty to sex with women inmates, beating man

Fentress County Sheriff Chucky Cravens has pleaded guilty to bribing female inmates for sex and beating a male prisoner, reports the Cookeville Herald-Citizen.

Cravens, 47, pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday after an investigation that began barely more than a week before. The official charges were three counts of honest services fraud and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. The charges stem back from July to as recently as March 1.

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TBI: Police officer pawned department pistols

News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

NASHVILLE – Special Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained an indictment for a former police officer who is now facing charges of Theft and Official Misconduct.

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Holt drops traffic camera bill amid unpaid ticket talk

State Rep. Andy Holt, the legislature’s leading crusader against traffic camera tickets, dropped a push for  passage of his latest bill on the subject (HB779) Tuesday after the House Transportation Committee rejected an amendment the Dresden Republican had proposed. He also had a bit of back-and-forth banter with a TV reporter later.

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An update on officers stabbed in prison uprising

News release from Department of Corrections

NASHVILLE – One of the three officers assaulted during (Sunday’s) disturbance at Turney Center Industrial Complex has been released from the hospital.  Officer Lester Ball was treated and released overnight.  Officers Jesse Shockley and Paul Nielsen remain hospitalized in stable condition.

The Department continues to work closely with other law enforcement agencies including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which we have asked to conduct its own independent investigation into the events.

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Nashville judge, facing federal charges, resigns

Nashville General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland, facing federal obstruction of justice charges, has resigned from the bench effective Tuesday, reports The Nashville Post.

Moreland’s lawyer submitted his resignation letter to a federal magistrate judge during a pretrial detention hearing (Friday), during which Magistrate Judge Joe Brown decided Moreland could return home while he awaits trial.

Mayor Megan Barry and several Metro Council members had previously called for Moreland’s resignation over allegations included in an FBI investigation that the judge had attempted to pay more than $6,000 to have a witness sign a false affidavit as well as plant drugs on the same witness in order to discredit her.

Moreland’s resignation is effective April 4.

The magistrate judge ruled that Moreland could be released prior to his trial, with conditions restricting his travel and communication with others. Moreland’s wife, Jacqueline, testified that the judge has experienced symptoms of depression and alcoholism for the past few years, and she agreed to oversee the conditions of his release. The two have not lived together since early February, after news media accounts revealed he had been involved in a relationship with the witness in the investigation, who was previously a defendant in his Nashville courtroom.

Rep. Holt wins panel OK of traffic camera bill without noting 10 unpaid tickets

State Rep. Andy Holt has ten outstanding and unpaid traffic camera speeding tickets, but failed to tell members of a House subcommittee about them when winning approval of a bill that would make the tickets secret, reports WTVF TV of Nashville.

Holt, R-Dresden, got all ten tickets from traffic camera operations in the town of McKenzie. He’s long been a crusader against traffic cameras and last year posted a Facebook video showing himself burning one while suggesting others do the same. But he refused to answer questions about his tickets from a WTVF reporter.

They (the tickets) date back to October of 2015 and go through January of this year. He’s clocked traveling up to 54 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone.

….McKenzie Police Chief Craig Moates wished Holt would just slow down.

“Obey the speed limit and then a violation would not be an issue,” Chief Moates said. He can’t believe the local state representative would advise people to burn traffic camera tickets.

As introduced, HB779 would prohibit city and county governments from blocking access to courts systems by people who have unpaid traffic tickets. An amendment added in the House Transportation Subcommittee would also block local governments from making public the names of persons with outstanding tickets.

According to the Nashville Scene, Holt told the subcommittee the legislation is needed because some  cities are “denying access to services such as a civil court because individuals have chosen not to pay their photo-enforcement citations.”

“That’s a problem. That’s a severe problem. When people are denied civil rights and opportunities because they have not paid an unenforceable — in my opinion, I’ll leave it at that — because they have chosen not to pay these photo enforcement citations, that too is a problem.”

The bill was approved by the subcommittee on voice vote. It’s scheduled for a vote next week in the full House Transportation Committee as well as the Senate Transportation Committee.

The same House sub killed a separate bill by Holt (HB780) that would have required law enforcement officers using a traffic camera to station themselves in “a clearly marked law enforcement vehicle that is visible from the road to approaching vehicles and shall give a signal of the operation of a manned traffic enforcement camera by use of authorized flashing lights.”

County pays $225K to settle another lawsuit involving ousted sheriff

Rutherford County this week paid about  $225,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Tommy Thompson, a former sheriff’s department major who was fired by former Sheriff Robert Arnold, subsequently convicted of corruption charges and ousted from office.

Further from the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal:

The government cut a $224,999.60 check to settle the case Tuesday, County Finance Director Lisa Nolen said.

Thompson joins other former sheriff’s deputies to accept settlements in wrongful termination lawsuits, including a $340,000 award about a year ago to fired Deputy Chief Virgil Gammon.

Thompson and Gammon both said they provided information to a federal grand jury that indicted Arnold on 14 counts accusing the ex-sheriff of illegally profiting off inmates through the sale electronic cigarettes from a JailCigs business, according to their lawsuits. Thompson also spoke to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his lawsuit states.

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TBI ‘Crime on Campus’ report for 2016: Rape down, other assaults up

News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has released to the public its annual crime study detailing the volume and nature of crime on the state’s college and university campuses. ‘Crime on Campus’ compiles data submitted to TBI by the state’s colleges, universities, and law enforcement agencies through the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS).

Among the report’s findings:

·         Overall, crime reported by Tennessee’s colleges and universities increased slightly, by 0.8% from 2015 to 2016.

·         In total, 27% of all 2016 offenses reported were categorized as Larceny/Theft.

·         Fraud Offenses increased by 8% in 2016, with a substantial increase in the category of Impersonation, with a 177% increase from 13 in 2015 to 36 in 2016.

·         Assault Offenses increased by 21% year-to-year.

·         There was a 27% decrease in reported Rape offenses, from 62 in 2015 to 45 in 2016.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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