Perdue names six to assist with Highway Patrol revamp
Gov. Beverly Perdue on Friday named six people to an advisory panel to help restructure the beleaguered state Highway Patrol.Posted — Updated
The six members named and their backgrounds are as follows:
“This panel’s insight and experience will be especially beneficial as we chart a new course for the patrol that will re-establish their reputation as one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the nation,” Perdue said in a statement. “The men and women who serve – and our citizens – deserve nothing less.”
The 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.
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.
WRAL Investigates also found that, from 2006 to 2009, an average of 17 troopers resigned or were fired – less than 1 percent of the force – amid an investigation each year.
Complaints ranged from not doing paperwork to serious issues such as obstructing an investigation. More than 60 percent of complaints were substantiated each year, and most complaints originated from fellow troopers.
Glover unexpectedly announced a week 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 will help Young with the selection process for a new commander and will 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.
"We're moving forward," said Ernie Seneca, spokesman for the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. "This is a proud organization. Unfortunately, there's been issues that have come to light with a few that have shed light on existing problems. We'll be addressing those, as we've had in the past."
The state Police Benevolent Association said a current or former trooper should be added to the panel to make others "fully aware of the magnitude of the unique culture of the Highway Patrol." The group also called for a criminal investigation of patrol leaders.
Swecker said he plans to go into the situation with an open mind, look at the facts, and do everything possible to make the Highway Patrol the best it can be.
The group's report will be due to Young by Sept. 1.
Many want the next commander to come from outside of the Highway Patrol, but state law mandates that the agency's leadership come from the governor, secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety or someone within the ranks of the patrol. Changing the law would require action by state lawmakers, whose next regular session starts in January.
Perdue said Wednesday that she is open to looking outside the patrol for a new leader, but she doesn't want to call a special legislative session to address changing state law.
Observers have speculated that she could work at the edges of the law by finding a trained trooper who left for other leadership opportunities. The governor also could hire an interim patrol commander until the law is changed.
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