In Roman and Greek mythology, they are known as “The Fates” – three goddesses said to preside over the birth, destiny and life of humans. Perhaps it was the three Fates – Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos – who led Jesse Scarbrough from the U.S. Marine Corps to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
“I really can’t explain how it happened, to be truthful. It just sort of happened. I didn’t go to college and I knew I needed a career after the Marines,” he explained. “I was in Okinawa, Japan, and someone sent me a link the THP page to apply. I didn’t apply anywhere else. It’s really possible that I was supposed to be here. Fate, I guess.”
Lance Corporal Scarbrough was honorably discharged from the Marines in May 2019. Two months later after interviews he was in Nashville, one of 37 recruits in the THP Cadet Class of 2019. It was 20 weeks of tough training for this four-year Marine veteran.
He is a native of Rockwood and a 2012 graduate of Rockwood High School, where he was a two-way football player – wide receiver and defensive back.
After surviving a bad car accident after high school, Scarbrough eventually received a medical waiver from the Marines and joined in January 2015. He served as a Rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines (3/2) as an infantry battalion based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. During his four years he completed two, six-month deployments to Okinawa.
Today, he’s 26 and works the night shift patrolling I-40 and I-75 and the state highways in Knox County as part of Troop A.
“You know, I love helping people and always have and I like being involved with people,” he says. “This job seems like a natural one for me.”
A lot of his involvement revolves around issuing DUIs, working accidents and pulling over those exceeding the speed limits. “It seems like lately it’s just been one DUI after the other. It’s everybody too – men, women, teens, a soccer dad who’s never had a ticket for anything,” he said. “The other day I stopped a 19-year-old. No tickets. But when I searched his vehicle, I found a lot of pot. He’s in some trouble.”
He’s also been seeing more and more parents who do not have their children in child passenger restraint devices – car seats. Tennessee state law mandates that they be restrained in a forward-facing car seat through the age of 3 and weighing more than 20 pounds. State law mandates that a child be restrained in a booster seat through the age of 8 and measuring less than 4-feet, 9-inches.
Earlier this year he was reminded about the dangers of the job. Scarbrough was part of a half-hour pursuit along I-40 from deep West Knox county to downtown. “As we got closer to the car, he would slow down like he wanted us to get close. When we did get him stopped, I was about 25 feet from the driver’s door and he raised up and started shooting,” he said.
He didn’t hit Scarbrough, but did hit his THP vehicle.
That turned into a 19-hour workday for Scarbrough. “I was exhausted. We all were. About a week later it settled in for me about what had happened, that I could have been shot.”
Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and was the editor of two newspapers. He writes this Monday column – Our Town Heroes – for KnoxTNToday.com. Suggest future stories at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 865-659-3562.