Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday that one of his key advisers is advocating for a plan that would move the State Bureau of Investigation under the control of the executive branch.
Currently, the SBI is an independent agency overseen by the attorney general. That proposed move is contained in the budget passed by the state Senate last week. Although its proponents say the move would save the state money and be more efficient because it would group the SBI together with the State Highway Patrol and Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement, it also has political overtones.
Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, is widely expected to run against McCrory, a Republican, in 2016.
McCrory said Tuesday he is relying on the advice of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry.
"He (Perry) is strongly recommending consolidation of those resources to me," McCrory said. "I'm still in review of hearing his argument and also hearing the argument of legislators who are promoting that idea."
When Senate budget writers proposed the transfer idea in 2013, McCrory opposed it, saying that his young administration didn't have time to deal with such a dramatic move. Last week, McCrory sounded more positive toward the idea. Tuesday's comments are the strongest signal yet that the governor may be on board.
Local law enforcement groups, such as the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association, oppose the move, and some critics say placing the SBI under the administration it may be called upon to investigate is a move rife with conflict.
House leaders have yet to weigh in.
"It’s still up in the air. We’re all trying to decide which way it would probably be better to have all law enforcement under one umbrella. We’re probably talking about it Thursday," said Rep. Pat Hurley, R-Randolph, one of the chairs of the House budget subcommittee on Justice and Public Safety.