Take note of this quote: “He’s dependable, level-headed and very hard-working. If I need something done, I don’t have to worry about it when I ask him. He just gets it done. I wish I had 10 of him.”
High praise, you think?
Those words are from Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Lt. Chris Underwood, Troop B Commander, about Trooper Brandon Michael Lindley. He is one of 15 troopers Underwood supervises as the troop patrols and covers three counties – Loudon, Roane and Morgan. That footprint includes I-75 and I-40 plus state routes 321, 411, 444 and 72, among others.
Lindley is 28, a burly 6-3, 250 pounds and headed into his fourth year with the THP. Before joining Troop B, he worked in Dickson County for 18 months after graduating from the THP Academy in July 2019.
Born in Georgia, he was reared in Strawberry Plains in the second through seventh grades and then the family moved to Peoria, Illinois. After high school, he went to Indiana State University for a year and then returned to East Tennessee at age 20 and played football and ran track at Carson Newman University.
Between Carson Newman and the THP, he worked three jobs, at a time all at once. He was a senior counselor/site leader at Kids Place Inc. in Mascot for four years. The man loves kids. He put in two years at Gouffon Moving and Storage, a year at National Fitness in Sevierville, and in 2017, he was hired by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) as a corrections officer.
While working at the county detention center, he applied for other jobs at the KCSO multiple times but nothing happened. “I didn’t know anyone there and moved on. I applied at THP,” he explained. “I got interested in law enforcement when we lived in Peoria. I really respected the school resource officers at my school and they made an impact on me.”
He thought to himself – if the locals won’t take me, let’s try the state. “And hey, they wanted me and they gave me a chance to try and become a trooper. I went through the interviews and testing and got accepted to the THP Academy and here I am,” Lindley said. “They took a risk on me and I am loving it here and I give 1,000 percent every day. It is a big honor for me to wear this Tennessee Highway Patrol uniform.”
He says he stays busy working on average three major wrecks a week, radar checking for speeders, helping stranded drivers, and watching for seatbelt and cell phone violations. “There’s plenty going on to keep us all busy. I’m also a Level 1 certified for truck inspections and I do those too.”
Lindley does what needs to be done with safety in mind. It’s doubtful these are detailed in his job description. “I enjoy helping people and assisting them and making an impact on their life. I change tires for people and give rides to those broken down or in a wreck so they can get a rental. And I go get them gasoline if they need it.”
The toughest part of his job, he says, is working crashes with fatalities. “It’s part of the job, but we have to notify the next of kin in person if the deceased is local or lives nearby. If they are from out of town, we have to call an agency close to their home and have a law enforcement agency talk with them in person,” he explained. “It can kinda get to you a little when you give someone this news in person.”
He escapes into a video game league with friends from around the country, knocking pins down at the bowling alley and going to the parks with his 5-year-old daughter.
Let’s circle back to Lt. Underwood, a 19-year THP veteran, for his final words about Lindley:
“He never complains about anything and even does crash investigations for other troopers. This job was made for him. My bottom line about Trooper Lindley is simple – I’d love to have 10 troopers just like him.”
Tom King has been the editor of newspapers in Texas and California and also worked in Tennessee and Georgia.