More trouble for Highway Patrol?

Larry Lovick

June 8, 2010 9:00:00 PM PDT
ABC11 Eyewitness News has learned that a state trooper has resigned.Former Trooper Larry Lovick resigned from the patrol on Monday amidst an investigation.

The trooper worked in Wake County. The patrol won't say why Lovick resigned, but says it received information that was handed over to the SBI.

Click here to read the letter released by the Highway Patrol that was sent to the head of the SBI

Sources tell ABC11 Eyewitness News that the information came from drivers who claim they could avoid getting a ticket if they gave Lovick money or sexual favors.

"I'm sorry I can't get into the specifics of this investigation," Clendenin said. "It's not my duty to respond to that, but what I can tell you is we have zero tolerance for this type of activity, if it's true."

The SBI won't say whether it intends to pursue criminal charges, but ABC11 has learned it has contacted the Wake County DA's office.

Lovick couldn't be reached for comment on Wednesday.

He's just the latest in a long line of troopers being investigated recently for everything from inappropriate sex, to K-9 abuse, to drunk driving, and deadly accidents.

ABC11's I-Team did some checking and in the last three years, the patrol has had to fire at least five troopers and has accepted at least six resignations, but still, they say, this is not a widespread problem.

"Ninety-nine point nine percent of our troopers are doing what they're supposed to do," N.C. Highway Patrol Maj. Everett Clendenin said.

"They're able to exercise lawful, forceful, physical authority over citizens and when they abuse that it's serious," Law Enforcement Expert James Brunet said.

Brunet says more so than an outside review of policies, the top brass has to lead by example.

"Set a real positive climate within the organization that will have real benefits in terms of behavior of officers who operate within that organization," he said.

A memo issued to all troopers last month tried to do just that by cautioning against behavior that could tarnish the badge --a warning that a zero tolerance is in effect.

"From time to time, like any other organizations, people make mistakes and do things they shouldn't do, but it's our duty to make sure when they do that we take the appropriate action," Clendenin said.

Despite the recent trooper incidents and others, Brunet doesn't think it's a trend. That law enforcement agencies have adopted higher ethical standards and that may be why the public is seeing more officers getting into trouble.

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