Raleigh, N.C. — The long-time face of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol resigned Wednesday amid an internal investigation into inappropriate text messages to his secretary.
Maj. Everett Clendenin, who served as spokesman for the state agency for nine years, had been on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the probe, which began last week.
"I have used poor judgment concerning a matter, however I have not engaged in a sexual relationship with a co-worker," Clendenin said in a statement. "I have apologized to (Highway Patrol Commander) Col. (Randy) Glover for the embarrassment my actions have caused."
Clendenin, who had been with the patrol since May 1988, was promoted to major in March and served as the head of its Support Services.
He began working in the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety's Public Affairs Office as a sergeant in December 2001, and in recent years, defended the patrol's integrity after several cases of trooper misconduct – ranging from profiling to sexual misconduct to animal abuse.
Clendenin told WRAL News that there was no physical contact between him and the secretary in the matter that is under investigation.
Reuben Young, secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, declined to comment specifically on the text messages or anymore about the case but said Clendenin offered his resignation willingly.
"He's been a good employee for 22 years," Young said. "I think this incident, unfortunately, will be a reflection on his career and the commitment he had to the Highway Patrol."
Both Gov. Beverly Perdue and Glover have adopted a zero-tolerance policy for misconduct issues – a measure, Young said, to which the Patrol is committed to keep the confidence and trust of the people.
"I think 99 percent of the members of the Highway Patrol get up every day committed to doing a good job, – and I would dare say, do a good job," Young said. "I think it's unfortunate that when you have incidences that involve individuals who make bad decisions that it's a reflection on the patrol."
In May, Glover sent a memo to all troopers saying those who embarrass the organization would be "dealt with."
"It's unfortunate, from time to time, that we have people who make bad decisions, exercise poor judgment," Young said. "And when they do that, we address those issues within the confines and the policies of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol."