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Easley Orders Review of Patrol Hiring, Management

Posted September 25, 2007

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— Following an embarrassments series of incidents in which state troopers were fired for policy violations, Gov. Mike Easley on Tuesday called for a review of the hiring and screening process and supervisory procedures of the Highway Patrol.

The order came on the same day the Highway Patrol reassigned two employees, including the head of internal affairs, over how they handled a trooper misconduct case.

Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety Bryan Beatty and Col. Fletcher Clay, the commander of the Highway Patrol, will conduct the review, Easley said.

But Clay said late Tuesday he would prefer an outside agency audit the Highway Patrol as soon as possible.

"It would mean more to the public if they heard the assessment was from the outside," said Clay, who has headed the Highway Patrol and its 1,800 troopers and staff members for the last three years. "I still feel confident that there is not a systemic problem throughout the organization."

Easley said he wants to make sure standards for joining the agency are high enough to screen out the type of behavior that has occurred recently. He also asked for a review of administrative training and procedures in the patrol to make sure supervisors are properly managing troopers at the district level.

“I am proud of the patrol and, while nearly all are outstanding public servants, there are a few who are not,” he said in a statement. “Col. Clay is right to fire troopers who violate the law and patrol policy, but we need to find out how these people get hired in the first place.”

Troopers already have to submit to a polygraph test, background check and psychological testing to get hired, but Michael McGuinness, the attorney for the North Carolina Troopers Association, said he welcomes a review of the hiring process and said he hopes to provide input.

In the past month, the agency has fired one trooper who targeted young women for late-night traffic stops and another who abused a K-9 officer in a training exercise. A third trooper resigned after two women said he forced them to kiss him, and a fourth was dismissed for undisclosed reasons.

Last week, a judge ordered the Highway Patrol to reinstate a trooper who was fired in 2003 for having sex in his patrol car and office. The judge said other troopers had exhibited similar misconduct but had been allowed to retain their jobs.

The Highway Patrol plans to appeal the judge's ruling to the State Personnel Commission.

Meanwhile, Capt. Ken Castelloe, the head of the agency's internal affairs unit was reassigned Tuesday to field operations and Lt. David Langley was reassigned from internal affairs to administrative services after questions arose about the way they handled Castelloe's involvement in a traffic accident this year.

Between five and 12 troopers have been fired each year from 2003 to 2006.

"It brings attention that is not favorable to the Highway Patrol," Clay said. "The challenge is to recover and ensure the public that, for the most part, there are good folks who are working hard every day."

As a result of recent incidents, Clay has taken several internal steps, including ordering increased ethics training for all staff during the next series of in-service classes and directing his command staff to reinforce proper behavior and decision making to all members in their districts.


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  • rnwby1756 Sep 26, 2007

    I know because I have walked in their shoes. It's easy to say the judge is crazy when you haven't read the ruling. She's holding the Highway Patrol accountable for having double standards. Everyone of those trooopers should have been fired, but they were not so the Judge said you need to treat everybody the same. The patrol needs a civilian review board to monitor complaints, because it's obivious that Patrol management can not be fair.

  • Timbo Sep 26, 2007

    I agree with you, OldRebel. I have been stopped numerous times, and deserved it. Most recently for speeding. Almost every time I was stopped the Trooper was professional and courteous. Even when I was 18 with long hair and a chip on my shoulder, I was treated respectfully. Of course, I was and am smart enough not to be a jerk, which helps.

  • Timbo Sep 26, 2007

    Good point, elcid89. My mistake.

  • oldrebel Sep 26, 2007

    Personally I still think the NCHP is the "premier law enforcement agency" in North Carolina. And yes, I've had a ticket from them from time to time, as well as stern warnings from time to time as well without a ticket. And when I've been stopped, I can't think of a single time when I was blameless. No one likes to see a blue light in the rear view mnirror, but you can usually bet if it's the NCHP, thee's a valid reason for it. I salute the troopers and hate that a few bad eggs, as in any organization, have cast a shadow on the whole.

  • wcnc Sep 26, 2007

    "But what if 4 or 5 others were doing the same thing and worse than you and they didn't get fired."

    You are right- if that was accurate in this case. The troopers that weren't fired were disciplined under a different Commander than this Trooper was. That is the difference and it is relevant and legitimate and in that case, this "different" discipline should be held up.

  • thepeopleschamp Sep 26, 2007

    A negative story about law enforcement has 200+ and counting. An article about good police work might get 5 post.

    If 6 to 12 troopers a year are fired that is still not even 1%. Thats better than most anywhere else.

  • mvnull Sep 26, 2007

    "Didn't morality originate from the Bible?" Do you mean there wasn't morality before 200 AD?

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Sep 26, 2007

    Thanks Elcid, I knew someone would take the bait and post that! I meant simply being drunk in public is not illegal, which is what the other poster seemed to imply when posting that his friend got arrested for that.

  • wakeconative4ever Sep 26, 2007

    FYI to fredsmithisnotmysenator, I DO work in healthcare so I know the sacrifices that are made there, too. My point is that I just don't think troopers receive enough extra benefits for anyone to be jealous. It is, however, a choice that these men and women make when they choose this profession and consequences come along with those choices. It is unfortunate that the wives and children are the ones who suffer the most. My point out of all of this is that I do think there are some troopers that have done a lot of wrong things, BUT discipline everyone the same. I just feel like a standard needs to be set and everyone disciplined according to that. Until then, there will continue to be lawsuits, which spend valuable tax dollars that might could be used to give all the state employees a much needed raise.

  • iwondersometimes Sep 26, 2007

    So the good ole boys will be reviewed by the good ole boys. What a joke. Just another CYA. Until an outside investigation happens throughout the SHP and ALL the skeletons are exposed it will be business as usual.
    Another waste of taxpayer money.