Trooper controversy has many weighing in

June 23, 2010 9:00:00 PM PDT
Following recent controversies involving officials in the state Highway Patrol, a local expert says it may be time to bring in leadership from outside the Highway Patrol to straighten everything out.Earlier this week, Major Everett Clendenin --once the public face of the NC Highway Patrol-- announced his resignation over allegations involving text messages with a female co-worker.

Clendenin's resignation came after another trooper resigned earlier this month amidst an investigation of alleged misconduct. That trooper was just the latest in a long line of officers being investigated for everything from inappropriate sex, to K-9 abuse, to drunk driving, and deadly accidents.

"If I were asked, the only way to clean this up would be bring somebody in from the outside," Professor Art Padilla said.

Padilla heads up the Management Department inside NC State's College of Management, where he specializes in organizational behavior.

A couple of years ago, some troopers told a consultant that sex on duty was often referred to as a fringe benefit.

Even the current colonel, who was brought in to straighten out that attitude, was once reprimanded for having an extra marital affair with a sheriff's dispatcher.

That is part of some of the reason Padilla is calling for drastic change.

"You can try to change people's behaviors, but that's a much more difficult task," he said. "I think it's more important to set the right tone culturally within the organization. The institution of the Highway Patrol in North Carolina is too important and too valuable to let it go on in this way. I think they do need to have a responsibility to look at themselves. And I think you bring somebody from the outside and sort of help them fix it."

Padilla also says it may not only be time to look outside the Highway Patrol for leadership, but for a gender change as well.

He says a female colonel might be just the ticket.

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