Raleigh, N.C. — State Attorney General Roy Cooper and state Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry are on opposite sides of a controversial Senate budget provision that would move the State Bureau of Investigation from the state Department of Justice, which reports to Cooper, to being under Perry's department.
Other statewide law enforcement agencies, including the State Highway Patrol and the Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement, already report to Perry.
“(We'd like to) have that under one agency so they can share information and combat crime more effectively and efficiently,” Perry said of the SBI.
Perry added that the move, which he said was supported by former Gov. Beverly Perdue, would also streamline criminal databases.
“We could put those into one and save millions,” he said. “I don’t think it’s political at all. I think it’s a logical extension of where law enforcement is going. Agencies are not necessarily consolidating, but growing closer and closer post 9/11.”
Cooper, a Democrat who is widely expected to run against Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in 2016, said he believes other motives are at play.
"It's pretty clear that what they're doing is trying to take away the independence of the SBI and potentially protect themselves," he said.
Investigations involving McCrory’s administration would be handled by either the Attorney General's Office or the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Perry said.
“So, we have no conflicts of interest whatsoever,” he said.
The Senate approved the state budget with the provision last week. It is now in the House.