Advisory panel debates changing Highway Patrol policies
A six-person advisory panel to help restructure the beleaguered state Highway Patrol met for the first time on Thursday afternoon and discussed a number of possible policy changes for the agency.Posted — Updated
The proposals include requiring troopers to live in the county that they patrol, reviewing staffers' personal cell phone bills, changes to promotions policies, having supervisors document their on-duty activities, procedures for having people of the opposite sex in patrol cars and installing cameras and GPS systems in all patrol cars.
The Highway Patrol's image has been plagued in recent years by a number of cases involving state 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.
Gov. Beverly Perdue had asked patrol commander Col. Randy Glover and Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety Reuben Young to devise a plan to restructure the agency. Glover unexpectedly announced two weeks ago that he would step down on Sept. 1, saying he didn't want to become a target for the patrol's critics.
The advisory panel is expected to help Young with the selection process for a new commander and provide recommendations on the patrol's structure and policies, consider recommendations for the 2011 legislative session to enact further reform and rebuild the focus on integrity, honor and the heritage of the patrol.
The panel includes former state Supreme Court Justice Burley Mitchell, University of North Carolina law professor Julius Chambers, former FBI assistant director Chris Swecker, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Peter Gilchrist, former state Court of Appeals Judge Ralph Walker and UNC law professor Norma Houston.
"We expect them to look at these proposals with the breadth of their experience, advise us with regard to where the minefields are – where the pitfalls are – and why they believe this policy – or drafted policy or proposed policy – is a good idea or not a good idea," Young said.
The panel is expected to discuss the selection process for a new patrol commander when members meet again next Thursday.