Local News

Advisers to help Perdue choose new Highway Patrol leader

Posted July 19, 2010 6:23 a.m. EDT
Updated July 19, 2010 6:53 p.m. EDT

— Choosing the next commander of a Highway Patrol dogged by conduct questions will be one of Gov. Beverly Perdue's most scrutinized decisions to date.

Col. Randy Glover announced unexpectedly on Friday that he would step down on Sept. 1 after 13 months on the job. Perdue characterized the move as a resignation, but Glover maintains that he is retiring after 30 years with the patrol so as not to be a target for critics of the agency.

Glover's move comes amid Perdue's call for restructuring the patrol after a number of cases in the past few years involving troopers who have resigned, been fired or been disciplined for inappropriate or questionable conduct, including profiling, drunken driving, animal abuse, sex on duty and inappropriate text messages.

Perdue had given Glover and Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety Reuben Young 60 days to devise a restructuring plan. She said Monday that she expects to have a team of advisers in place this week to help with the transition.

"I'm going to let this group help us interview the likely candidates and help set up parameters for how the patrol needs to continue to change," she said.

Many want the next commander to come from outside the Highway Patrol, but state law mandates that the agency's leadership must come from the governor, the secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety or someone within the ranks of the patrol.

Changing the law before Perdue names a new commander would require a special legislative session.

"I really have no objection to going outside," Perdue said. "I really don't want to call the General Assembly back for a special session, and I really don't want to wait until January. So, I'm very hopeful we can work within the parameters and then change the law, if need be, in January."

Observers speculated that the governor could work at the edges of the law by finding a trained trooper who left for other leadership opportunities.

Perdue had talked, for example, to Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mike Robertson about overseeing the patrol. He was a trooper, led the state Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement and was a State Bureau of Investigation agent.

Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said Robertson will remain at DMV.

The governor also could hire an interim patrol commander until the law is changed.

"I think, if we get someone from outside with a lot of experience in law enforcement but from another agency, that would be the way to go for the next person hired," House Minority Leader Paul Stam said.

John Midgette, executive director of the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, said Glover's successor must be named without patronage and that eliminating favoritism could allow some within the patrol to run the agency effectively.

"I don't think replacing colonels is as much an issue as finding out what's going on above the colonels," Midgette said. "I think there are people inside the patrol who could run it if they were allowed to run it."

Meanwhile, Glover continues to travel around the state to hold ethics meetings for troopers.