Local News

Panel recommends changes for Highway Patrol

Posted January 14, 2011 5:37 p.m. EST
Updated January 14, 2011 6:43 p.m. EST

— The General Assembly should amend state law so qualified candidates outside of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol could oversee the agency, an advisory group appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue has recommended.

The recommendations were made Dec. 30 by State Highway Patrol Leadership Advisory Group, but were released Friday evening.

The group said candidates with at least 15 years of law enforcement experience and at least five years at the executive level should be considered for the position of Highway Patrol colonel.

Perdue asked the advisory group to review the Highway Patrol after numerous instances involving troopers who resigned, were fired or were disciplined for inappropriate or questionable conduct, including profiling, drunken driving, animal abuse, sex on duty and inappropriate text messages.

The advisory group also recommended the Highway Patrol implement recommendations made in 2008 by consulting firm KROLL. The panel found that the patrol did not fully enact some of those recommendations.

Among those recommendations was creating an ethics campaign, which was listed as completed on July 7, 2010. Another recommendation that was not implemented was a policy to determine the root of an employee's behavioral misconduct and the role and accountability of the employee's supervisor.

The KROLL report also suggested re-investigating every sworn employee in the agency every five years or before a promotion. The investigation would involve checking the FBI Criminal Justice System for nationwide arrest and conviction records and local courts for other arrests, convictions or restraining orders.

In addition, the Leadership Advisory Group recommended developing and implementing a system for classifying violations unique to law enforcement and establishing a punishment range.

The group also recommended that the patrol publish a quarterly summary of all disciplinary actions, which would be made available to staff and the public on the patrol's website.

An audit of all serious misconduct cases was also suggested.

The group also noted that the patrol is a “highly effective organization in achieving the mission of protecting the citizens of North Carolina, reducing collisions and making the highways of North Carolina as safe as possible."

Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety Ruben Young thanked the advisory group for its recommendations on Friday.

"Each member proposed recommendations that they believe will only strengthen the core values of the Highway Patrol. During this review process, the Highway Patrol has worked diligently to implement many of these recommendations and in some cases implemented changes beyond those proposed," Young said in a statement. "I am confident that the organization will continue to promote excellence and seek innovative ways to provide the best service to the citizens of North Carolina.”