Patrol Chief Pushes for Proper Conduct by Troopers
Posted September 11, 2007 6:18 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2007 9:00 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The commander of the state Highway Patrol said Tuesday that his agency is working quickly to regain public trust after a string of criminal cases against troopers.
"We feel hurt. We feel embarrassed for our organization," Col. Fletcher Clay said.
Three troopers have been fired or resigned in the past two weeks, and a fourth is under investigation following criminal charges or allegations of misconduct:
- Trooper Scott Harrison was fired two weeks ago after being accused of targeting young women for overnight traffic stops. When a judge ruled his credibility was questionable, Wake County prosecutors dismissed dozens of charges he had brought.
- Trooper Michael Steele resigned last week amid allegations that he forced two women he pulled over to kiss him.
- Sgt. Charles Jones, who was in charge of training the Highway Patrol's K-9 unit, was fired after state officials reviewed a videotape provided by a fellow trooper that appeared to show Jones abusing a dog during a training exercise. Officials also ordered a complete review of the K-9 program.
- First Sgt. John Warren was placed on investigative leave Sunday after he was charged with drunken driving.
Clay said he can't excuse bad behavior, but he said he doesn't want the headlines to destroy the good work of the other 1,800 troopers on the road. He said he sees no pattern of problems, noting that overall complaints against the patrol are down.
He has instructed all supervisors to reinforce the message of proper conduct among troopers.
"The deeper rooted question is, 'Why? Why is that? ' And that's what we've got to home in on," he said.
Hiring standards aren't an issue, Clay said, because the accused troopers in these cases are veterans.