State News

Highway Patrol to Fight Trooper's Reinstatement

Posted September 24, 2007

— The state Highway Patrol plans to appeal a judicial order to reinstate a trooper who was fired for having sex in his patrol car and at his trooper station.

"It's almost an insult to the Highway Patrol to have to take back or be ordered to hire back someone who was committing such an outrageous conduct while on duty, while doing the state's business," said Lt. Everett Clendenin, of the Highway Patrol.

Administrative Law Judge Melissa Owens Lassiter said last week that former Trooper Monty Stevens Poarch's behavior was egregious enough to warrant being fired. But she also ruled that Poarch, who was fired in 2003, should get both his job back and back pay.

Poarch is now a lieutenant with the sheriff's department in Caldwell County.

Lassiter said Poarch's attorney should have the opportunity to present other cases in which troopers had sex while on duty, including one trooper who had sex with the same woman as Poarch. Another trooper wasn't fired although he also had sex while on duty and made more than 20 threatening calls to his ex-wife.

Gov. Mike Easley said he was backing the Highway Patrol in its appeal to the State Personnel Commission and wouldn't let Poarch return to the job, a spokesman said Monday.

"The governor is adamant that we're not going to give the badge of law enforcement officer to somebody with issues of moral turpitude," Easley spokesman Seth Effron said. "Now that the judge has ruled, she can give that officer a job. But he won't be working for the state Highway Patrol as long as Gov. Easley is in office."

The cases Lassiter referenced in her ruling occurred under Col. Richard W. Holden, who led the patrol from 1999 to 2004.

Col. Fletcher Clay, who became patrol commander in July 2004, said he has "made it crystal clear these types of behaviors are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Troopers know that if they engage in this type of behavior their jobs will be in jeopardy."

Clendenin said the patrol can't reopen the disciplinary cases of troopers who committed similar behavior but were allowed to remain on the force under Holden.

"These troopers should not be a part of this organization. Now, there's nothing we can do about that," he said. "If that activity had taken place today, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that each and every one would be fired."

The case is the latest black eye for the Highway Patrol. 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.

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  • reality4sure Sep 25, 2007

    This decision is not based on the indiscretion of Monty Poarch, but the problems that lie within the Patrol to "police" themselves and treat its Troopers fairly. State Employees have "property rights" in their job. Those rights must be respected by the Patrol and the Governor just as the public's constitutional rights should be respected and protected by our legal system.

    The judicial process ends at the State's Supreme Court. The Highway Patrol and its boss Governor Easley can be disappointed of the Judge's opinion and have the right to appeal, but it is inappropriate for them to publicly comment on this case as they have.

    But unless the Governor has listened to all the evidence and arguments presented to Judge Melissa Owens Lassiter, he should keep his comments to a minimum.

    And if he wants to be a Judge, he should run for office or seek appointment.

    Personally, I want my Judges to apply the law, not swing at the whim of the public opinion.

  • reality4sure Sep 25, 2007

    Shame on you Governor Easley! Surely as an attorney you can appreciate the "constitutional rights", "due process", and the "rule of law."

    Why did the Highway Patrol support the Wake District Attorney's dismissal of all of Trooper Harrison's pending cases? Did you chime in on Colon Willoughby's decision to dismiss those cases? The evidence suggested that Trooper Harrision did not equally enforce the law in ONE case. Because of one case, nearly two hundred charges against both male and female were dismissed.

    Where were these strong words during Mike Nifong's fiasco? You kept quiet because of a politics, and didn't jump on the band wagon until everybody else did and you were in New York. Now you chime in because a Trooper had an affair on the job.

    I have more problems with the Director of Internal Affairs and his staff filing a fictitious wreck report than Monty Poarch getting some in his car. He has just as much right to wear the badge as the others that Colonel Holden kept!

  • Concerned Sep 25, 2007

    Wow, those are strong statements coming from Gov. Easley's camp saying as long as he's in office, this trooper will not get his job back. If you get one, you should get them all, if they are guilty of misconduct.

  • richard2 Sep 24, 2007

    The nchp will get better if all politics were removed from this dept.

  • DC_Merlin Sep 24, 2007

    calicolombia - I agree, all employees should be treated equally, but maybe this one was the only was caught with his pants down (and I do mean that literally).

    psychobabble - good question :)

  • Love my boys Sep 24, 2007

    FINALLY!!! Someone that actually supports the NCSHP!

  • napdog123 Sep 24, 2007

    Does the words "Equal protection and due process" ring any bells. I'm not here to say this former trooper didn't do anything wrong, he did. What people are missing is this "double standard" and flat out biased, unfair, and 3rd party motivated firings of some and others not!
    ALSO GOVERNOR EASLEY....WOW what a very strong statement you made...lets see, you are saying I don't care what a Judge says I'm not going to abide by it?!?!?! FRANKLY GOV. EASLEY--TO BAD, YOU CANNOT DEFY A FINAL RULING BY A JUDGE IN THIS MATTER..once it's brought to a finality. Gov. Easley, as the former Attorney General for this state...you SHOULD BE well versed on the 3 branches of Government--Executive, legislative, and judicial...Remember from law school the "checks & balance" system Mike???

  • anonemoose Sep 24, 2007

    "The governor is adamant that we're not going to give the badge of law enforcement officer to somebody with issues of moral turpitude"

    So what is the Governor and Sheriff's standards going to do about his deputy Sheriff badge and certification?

  • calicolombia Sep 24, 2007

    sorry But I believe Easley is in the wrong here ! All employees must be treated equally. Why haven't the other slimey troopers that have had sex in the car or on duty been fired. I fear there is a double standard here.Or perhaps the others were of a different race or heritage that is not so easy to fire.

  • gmoux138 Sep 24, 2007

    Thanks Gov, glad to see you backing the Colonel on this one. it's the right thing to do!

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