Local News

Highway Patrol commander stepping down

Posted June 23, 2009 2:16 p.m. EDT
Updated June 23, 2009 2:29 p.m. EDT

— Col. Walter Wilson Jr. announced Tuesday that he plans to retire from the state Highway Patrol on Aug. 1, 13 months after taking charge of the patrol.

"I have dedicated 29 years of my life to the Highway Patrol and our great state. I have never regretted my career choice. As colonel, I have worked hard to make things better for all employees," Wilson wrote in an e-mail to patrol employees.

A native of Tarboro, he joined the patrol in 1980. He was sworn in as the law enforcement agency's 23rd commander last July.

Wilson has tried to rebuild the image of the Highway Patrol, which has been shaken by a series of trooper misconduct cases. Several troopers have been fired in the past two years over allegations of on-duty sex, profiling of young women for traffic stops, drunken driving and abuse of a K-9.

A four-month evaluation cited 43 recommendations for change, including more personal interviews with applicants, more active recruiting and an increase in pay and incentives to make the agency more competitive with other law enforcement agencies.

The patrol also overhauled its K-9 program after concerns were raised about improper training and animal abuse. The new program was launched two weeks ago, pairing Labrador retrievers with six newly trained troopers.

Wilson succeeded Col. Fletcher Clay, who retired after four years in charge of the patrol. There was no immediate word on who would succeed Wilson.