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State Trooper's Professionalism Called Into Question

Posted March 29, 2007

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— North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers are held to some of the highest standards of law enforcement. It's not often that their conduct is called into question.

In 2006, there were 1,800 state troopers and 79 incidents of physical altercations of some kind involving a trooper and a suspect, according to the Highway Patrol. In 2005, there were 97 incidents.

But a Holly Springs man says a trooper stationed in Wake County assaulted him. The man's attorney says he believes the incident is part of a pattern of unprofessional behavior.

On March 7, Trooper Scott Harrison arrested Kenneth Davis and charged him with drunken driving. What happened next is unclear. Davis says Harrison assaulted him in the processing area of the Wake County Jail while his hands were cuffed behind his back.

"The highway patrolman grabbed him by the back of the neck and slammed his face down into some object," Davis' attorney, James Crouch of Raleigh, said. "We are not sure if it was a counter, if it was the wall."

Davis was taken to a local hospital with a minor head injury, according to Crouch, and was then charged with assaulting the officer. The Highway Patrol is investigating the incident.

"It appears that the trooper was defending himself, that the suspect leaped up, charged the trooper with his shoulder down, and the trooper did a defensive action," Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin said. "And as a result, the suspect tripped and fell and hit his head."

"I have my concerns about the level of professionalism exhibited in this case, and I base it on other cases I've had involving this trooper," Crouch said. "And I think my colleagues in the defense bar would echo that concern."

Within the past two months, numerous lawyers and judges have voiced concern to WRAL about Harrison's conduct on the job and in the courtroom. Several say the North Carolina Highway Patrol's Internal Affairs Division has contacted them regarding Harrison's conduct.

"I have had a number of my female clients, primarily young female clients, express concerns about inappropriate comments made to them while (Harrison was) processing them and after being arrested, bordering on what I would call flirtatious -- flirtations," Raleigh attorney Bill Young said. "And it has caused me a great deal of concern about his professionalism."

Harrison has been with the Highway Patrol since 2002. He is known for being tough on drunken driving. Last year, he arrested 116 people on drunken-driving charges. Yet, when WRAL recently checked his Myspace.com Web page, it contained many pictures of him drinking. There were multiple references to alcohol and getting drunk. As of Tuesday, he changed the page requiring visitors to be a friend to view everything that is posted.

"Our rules are that troopers must conduct themselves in a professional manner," Clendenin said. "Having said that, they do have First Amendment rights. We're going to look into this. We've just been made aware of it, and we will make a decision down the road."

Harrison remains on duty for the Highway Patrol. He has not been charged with anything.

"If this investigation reveals he has violated state law or Highway Patrol policy, we'll take the appropriate action," Crouch said.

The Highway Patrol says it is looking into all allegations concerning Harrison.

WRAL spoke directly with Harrison at length, and also with one of his attorneys, Eliot Smith of Wilson, on three separate occasions. Each said they have chosen at this time not to respond on the record to the allegations.

129 Comments

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  • javelinamx72 Apr 6, 2007

    Ok, I may be late on this subject...but when has it ever been a crime to have a beer while having your picture taken? Some say unprofessional. But lets look at the bigger picture folks! Do you see Trooper Harrison hangin out of the window of a motor vehicle, he is operating, sucking down a alcoholic beverage?! Is it wrong to drink alcohol? Must not be, since it is sold at most supermarkets. As for the lawyers, let not forget the O.J. trials...enough said!

  • brwneyz Apr 2, 2007

    SERIOUSLY? How many of you have spent time in the courtroom when Harrison has been in court? Apparently not many. There is a definite pattern to his behavior and the defendants cites. Crouch and Young's comments are right on target.

  • brwneyz Apr 2, 2007

    SERIOUSLY? How much time do you spend at the courthouse on these trooper's court dates? I think Crouch and Young's comments are completely appropriate and accurate. These attorneys do have legitimate claim and they are not slandering this "hard-working state trooper". He has done it to himself.

  • USSFRet Apr 1, 2007

    Scott Harrison is a personal friend of mine whom I also had the priviledge of working with when he was a municipal police officer. He is extremely dedicated to his work and believes in the motto "protect and serve". I attended his graduation from the Patrol Academy and know he has performed admirably ever since. As a point of record look at his arrests of 116 drunk drivers in one year. Consider how many do not get caught by law enforcement in a year in this area. Now consider how many lives have possibly been saved by the arrests of those 116 people.

    As for the injuries this man allegedly sustained, I personally have seen drunks intentionaly slam their own heads into a wall to inflict an injury in the hope of making an allegation against an officer. Drunks do stupid things, hence, impairing substance. As for the lawyers, this is obviously a very bad tactical maneuver (See Nifong). We are with you Scott. Stay Safe.

  • Fence Straddler Mar 31, 2007

    All,
    IA will conduct its own investigation and the truth will come out in the end. WRAL has brought the situation to light. I think sensitivity should have been used when airing this story due to the totality of the circumstances regarding his professional life to his personal one. He as us all, has a right to his personal freedoms when off duty as long as no laws are violated. Keep watching and stay tuned to this story.

  • napdog123 Mar 31, 2007

    ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT POSTING Linuxheels!
    WRAL! When the NCSHP pulls the curtains back on these nickel and dime lawyers for what they really are, I am confident that on your front page and in the news you will take the time to let everyone know that these lawyers pulled yet another "NIFONG" and trying to cast doubt on a very professional Trooper, because their client refuses to accept the fact the he was drunk and he got caught driving. And for the part of "some" judges and lawyers are questioning his professionalism, The real story to this is that Trooper Harrison refuses to compromise his profession and Kiss the hind ends of these lawyers in order for their clients not to face the true penalties of their mistakes. Lawyers don't like it when an officer refuses to roll over and let their client walk. You want to know why he doesn't roll over? Because when they exit their vehicle they assume the responsibility that they may never get back in. So Mr. Bowtie Lawyer, Mike Nifong called and

  • narck9 Mar 31, 2007

    Hey momof2. You said "There are many upstanding Troopers on the SHP. There are quite a few not so good."

    I know many upstanding State Troopers because I work with them. I am wondering what your experience (if any) is with the "not so good." In your statement you stated that there are "quite a few not so good." Please elaborate on your experience with the not so good.

  • momof2 Mar 31, 2007

    Gnathostomata-I understand your point, the trooper should not have been named without any charges against him. However, for me, the big story here is that there are some troopers that misuse their authority to "make a point". They use intimidation tactics against innocent citizens just because they can. They protect each other, even when its wrong, because they are the good ole boys. It DOES happen and that story DOES deserve attention. Maybe then the organization as a WHOLE will get more respect. One bad apple can spoil a bunch of good apples. I speak this from a personal knowledge. There are many upstanding Troopers on the SHP. There are quite a few not so good. Should this trooper be signalled out? Perhaps not...Trooper Harrison and the drunk driver are both considered to be innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

  • nc_copper1993 Mar 31, 2007

    Wow this is the funniest blog yet. i dont even know how to comment on this. if you never had to try to control a drunk in cuffs trying to assult you, you can not speak on this subject, lol. drinking and partying with your friends is great, we know not to get behind the wheel. and lastly before you comment you have to go to officerdown.com. how about we all take a day off and see if anyone misses us. lol

  • narck9 Mar 30, 2007

    "I have had a number of my female clients, primarily young female clients, express concerns about inappropriate comments made to them while (Harrison was) processing them and after being arrested, bordering on what I would call flirtatious -- flirtations," Raleigh attorney Bill Young said. "And it has caused me a great deal of concern about his professionalism."

    Wow. These are the kind of comments that got Mike Nifong in trouble. This attorney better have a legitimate claim before slandering a good hard working State Trooper. Read the article it says "Harrison has been with the Highway Patrol since 2002. He is known for being tough on drunken driving. Last year, he arrested 116 people on drunken-driving charges." Good job Trooper Harrison for being tough on drunks. Keep working hard.

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