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State's Top Trooper to Retire

Col. W. Fletcher Clay is a 29-year veteran of the Highway Patrol and has headed the agency since June 2004.

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Highway Patrol Co. Fletcher Clay
RALEIGH, N.C. — The commander of the state Highway Patrol announced Friday that he would retire at the beginning of July.

A 29-year veteran of the Highway Patrol, Col. W. Fletcher Clay headed the agency since June 2004. He is retiring for personal reasons.

Bryan Beatty, secretary of the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, credited Clay with improving efforts to enforce laws governing tractor-trailers on state highways and upgrading the Highway Patrol's communications.

“Since 2004, the patrol’s motor carrier enforcement activities have been the highest in the history of highway safety in North Carolina, and all first responders have the technology available to communicate with one another,” Beatty said in a statement. ”He has served the citizens of North Carolina honorably, and his commitment to highway safety has made a difference on our highways.”

Clay issued a statement thanking all of the Highway Patrol's employees for their hard work and support.

"I know all the success and recognition we received during my tenure is directly attributed to each of you," he said.

The Highway Patrol employs 1,820 troopers to cover more than 78,000 miles of North Carolina roadways.

During the past year, the agency has been rocked by allegations of misconduct by several troopers, ranging from late-night stops of women drivers to animal abuse to drunken driving. Gov. Mike Easley ordered a review of the Highway Patrol's hiring and training practices.

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