Sleeping on the job is just about the worst thing you could do as part of security detail. Turns out part of Governor Haslam's team was doing just that.

An internal investigation obtained by News4 reveals Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Willie McCoy admitted to improperly taking painkillers while working for the Governor’s protective detail and supervisors didn’t take disciplinary action for months.

“Is that the one who's always high?” According to interviews conducted as part of that investigation, that’s how fellow troopers knew former Sergeant McCoy around the Executive Protective Unit.

Complaints about McCoy's behavior date back to 2017, but the reports of him sleeping on the job, start at the beginning of 2018. At least five instances of McCoy dozing off were documented before the night that prompted the investigation.

In an interview detailed by the internal investigation, another trooper describes working a night shift with McCoy on June 22,. He said McCoy was lethargic, slurring his speech, and nodding off. McCoy fell asleep at his desk and was later taken home.

In McCoy's interview with the investigator, he “admits that due to the effects of the medications, he more than likely worked a shift where he would not have been able to perform his basic job functions.”

In an internal memo at the beginning of December, Colonel Dereck Stewart indicates supervisors knew this was an ongoing issue, saying 'the pattern of behavior was allowed to continue for months without any knowledge of THP command staff' and 'Sergeant McCoy was allowed to continue down a self-destructive and perilous path without any worthwhile intervention from his supervision.'

McCoy was demoted from Sergeant to trooper in December, and removed from the Executive Protective Unit.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Rebecca Cardenas is a Murrow-award winning journalist who joined News4 as a reporter in September 2017.

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