Local News

State Highway Patrol gets new leader

Posted June 24, 2008 12:43 p.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2008 10:18 a.m. EDT

— Maj. Walter J. Wilson Jr., a 28-year veteran of the state Highway Patrol, will assume command next month when Col. W. Fletcher Clay retires, Gov. Mike Easley announced Tuesday.

Wilson will be promoted to colonel during the transition.

Easley also named Maj. Jamie J. Hatcher to the patrol's lieutenant colonel position to replace Lt. Col. Cecil Lockley, who retired earlier this month.

Wilson, of Tarboro, is a graduate of Campbell University, the Southern Police Institute in Louisville and the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. He started his career with the Highway Patrol in 1980, serving Wake County.

Hatcher joined the patrol in 1982 in Bertie County. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico and the Administrative Officers’ Management Program at North Carolina State University.

Candidates were subjected to a detailed interview process and background review over the past few weeks. Bryan Beatty, secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, recommended the promotions to the governor.

Patrol spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin told WRAL News before the selections were announced that the right person for the top job would be "a strong leader who will get out and work with the community closely."

He acknowledged that the new leader will face challenges relating to the patrol's image and reputation.

"They know going into this, there are issues that have to be dealt with, and we have to continue to work to keep the public's trust," Clendenin said.

Over the past year, the agency has been mired in controversy because of allegations of trooper misconduct ranging from late-night stops of female drivers to animal abuse to drunken driving.

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.

“We're currently soliciting input from the rank and file, and we'll be making decisions and having an opportunity to implement strategies to continue to move the organization forward,” Wilson said.

“I'm very proud to be a member of the Highway Patrol,” Hatcher said.

The appointments become effective next Tuesday.