Safety chief stresses merit in trooper promotions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons says he had to send strong signals early in his time in charge of the Tennessee Highway Patrol that the election of a new governor would not lead to favoritism for certain troopers.

Gibbons said in a speech Tuesday to a group of Southeastern law enforcement leaders meeting in Nashville that Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's insistence after his election in 2010 that only performance and merit would influence promotions and assignments.

Gibbons said after the initial surprise on behalf of some within the agency, the policy has contributed to improved morale.

Former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen had to overhaul the agency following a series of scandals that included troopers with criminal records, allegations of ticket-fixing and a culture of cronyism and political arm-twisting.

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