Local News

Trooper Fired; Highway Patrol K-9 Program to Get Review

Posted September 8, 2007 10:15 p.m. EDT
Updated June 5, 2008 12:12 p.m. EDT

— Amid allegations of animal abuse, a trooper was fired, and a complete review of the state's Highway Patrol's K-9 program was ordered.

Sgt. Charles L. Jones, 38, who was in charge of training the Highway Patrol's K-9 unit, was dismissed from the force as of 11 a.m. Sunday, Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin said.

The process to let Jones go moved quickly after Bryan Beatty, the state secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety, reviewed videotape of an incident of alleged animal abuse at a training exercise in early August. On Saturday, Clendenin said the dismissal process would be completed by Monday.

The State Bureau of Investigation is also looking into whether Jones violated laws that make it a felony to abuse a law-enforcement animal. Jones, 38, was placed on investigative leave after internal investigators received the recording.

Two other troopers are also under investigation for not reporting the incident: Timmy L. Cardwell, who is stationed in Winston-Salem, and Rodney G. Crater, who is stationed in Asheville.

A third trooper, Ray Herndon, 42, a 21-year veteran, is not under investigation, because he recorded the incident with his cell phone and turned the video in, Clendenin said. The contents of the video are not being released, because it is evidence in an ongoing criminal investigation, Clendenin said.

All four troopers are members of the Highway Patrol's Criminal Interdiction Team, which employs dogs to find drugs.

The dog who was allegedly abused, Ricoh, a Belgian Malinois, has been removed from Jones' care and is being housed in a kennel at the patrol's Training Academy in Raleigh. Ricoh had been Jones' partner for seven years and lived at Jones' home.

As a result of the investigation, Colonel W. Fletcher Clay, commander of the Highway Patrol, ordered a complete review of the force's entire K-9 program. Clay met with patrol command staff met on Friday and developed several plans of action to deal with the allegations of animal abuse and other personnel issues facing the Highway Patrol, Clendenin said

Trooper Michael A. Steele, 28, quit last Sunday after allegations emerged that he stopped a Hispanic couple in Carrboro last month and told the husband he would face immigration violations if he did not leave his wife behind and drive away from the stop.

The week before, the Highway Patrol fired former trooper Scott Harrison, 31, who is accused of profiling young women at night during traffic stops in his Wake County patrol area. Harrison, who said he will appeal the dismissal and has adamantly denied the allegations against him, saying he believes he was fair in his arrests.

Clendenin said the 1,820 sworn troopers, who wrote more than 1 million traffic citations last year, received 165 complaints of misconduct during the same period. Eighty-seven of those resulted in disciplinary actions, ranging from reprimand to termination, he said.

"We have a high standard of conduct that we expect of our troopers," he said earlier this week in response to Steele's resignation. "When they sway off of that, we take quick action. It's not something we're going to tolerate."