Local News

Former probation chief defends service award

Posted April 22, 2009 6:59 p.m. EDT
Updated April 22, 2009 7:08 p.m. EDT

— The former chief of the state's troubled probation system said Wednesday he feels he is under scrutiny after receiving one of North Carolina's most prestigious awards.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is the highest honor bestowed upon a civilian by the governor for extraordinary service to the state.

Former Gov. Mike Easley approved the award for Robert Guy, who served 11 years as the director of the state Division of Community Corrections and more than 30 in the state's probation system. He retired in January prior to Gov. Beverly Perdue taking office.

"I was truly shocked but very honored that I received the award after 31 years of public service," Guy said.

His leadership came into question last year following the slayings of Eve Carson, the student body president at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato.

One suspect in both slayings and a second suspect in Carson's death were on probation at the time of the killings, but their probation officers failed to keep close tabs on them.

Guy said reporters are calling about the award, some questioning its validity. He said he now feels forced to defend himself even though he had no hand in the process of receiving the award.

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger said he wonders if the timing of the award sends the right message.

"It needs to be a situation when it's appropriate for a person to be honored in some way," Berger, R-Rockingham, said.

Guy did work his way up the ranks. He's received numerous national awards and helped start programs like the Violent Fugitive Task Force.

"At that retirement luncheon, 300-plus people hugged my neck and that meant a lot," he said.

While he acknowledges mistakes, he said the award helps him remember the accomplishments.

"I want to hold my head high," he said.

Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, who presented the award at Guy's retirement, said that although he did not nominate Guy for the award, he was honored to make the presentation.

He said Guy worked for the state for a long time and was highly regarded nationally.