TBI reported ignoring state law giving hiring preference to veterans

Two state legislators say they want to change state law giving military veterans a preference in hiring for state jobs because the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has been ignoring the statute, reports WTVF-TV.

TBI Director Mark Gwyn told us he believes that the law that says veterans *will* be given preference was actually designed to be read as *may* be given preference.

Gwyn added, “I would be shocked if anybody wrote a law that was going to force an agency head to hire anybody.”

… “I don’t think we intended to tell them, give them a name of who to hire,” said Rep. Joe Pitts, a Clarksville Democrat who represents the area near Fort Campbell.

“But I think we established a framework that said, all things being equal, a veteran will be given preference. Hopefully, we can change the law to ‘shall be given preference’ so there is not confusion.”

Pitts and Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, said they never thought there was any doubt about a 2012 state law that said veterans “will” be given preference for state jobs.

“I think the intent and the plain language of the legislation is clear that these veterans shall be given preference,” Clemmons said.

But former TBI human resources employee, Melissa Smith, told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that the Bureau ignored the law.

“From the words that I remember that were told to me is that they will hire whoever they want because it’s their choice,” Smith added.

She watched the children of bureau bigwigs get hired as special agents right out of college with no experience.

Among the veterans passed over: A highly regarded state trooper who had been “strongly recommended” by T-B-I interviewers. A police officer who interviewers called a “great candidate.” Even a former military intelligence officer who had — quote — “good experience with investigating.”

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