Gov. appoints panel to find HP colonel replacement

(Image courtesy Flickr creative commons)

July 23, 2010 8:54:29 PM PDT
On Friday, Governor Bev Perdue announced she has appointed a panel to refine the process for finding Highway Patrol Colonel Randy Glover's replacement.One week ago, Glover announced he would be leaving the agency after 30 years of service --just one year after taking over the top spot.

"It became very clear to me that the target was on me," said Glover on Thursday. "I don't know why, but it was, it was on me."

Over the past few months, the Highway Patrol has been rocked by scandals, firings and resignations.

With Glover stepping down on Sept. 1, the governor will now have to find his replacement, someone who can clean up the agency and its image.

Perdue has given six people the task of coming up with criteria for the search and an action plan for the patrol.

The people on the panel come from very diverse backgrounds --Burley Mitchell is a former chief justice of the state supreme court and former secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety, Julius Chambers is a UNC law professor and former chancellor at NCCU, Chris Swecker is previously with the FBI --now a consultant in Charlotte, Peter Gilchrist is Mecklenberg County's long-time district attorney, Ralph Walker is a former judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Superior Court, and Norma Houston is a former assistant attorney general and currently law professor at the UNC School of Government.

Along with finding the Highway Patrol's next commander, they'll also be working with Crime Control Secretary Reuben Young and Glover to put a restructuring plan on the governor's desk by Sept. 1.

"To help patrol the process for selecting a new commander and also look into the structure of it and also to help restore the integrity and honor of this organization," said Ernie Seneca with the Department of Crime Control.

But some say after all the firings and resignations that have tarnished the patrol in the last few months and years, the only way to make a clean break from that and start fresh is by bringing in someone from outside the agency, maybe from outside the state. In order to do that, the state law would have to change.

Written in 1975, the law requires the Highway Patrol's commander to come from within the agency.

House Minority Leader Paul Stam says he's already taking steps to change that.

"I've asked our legislative staff to prepare an amendment to repeal the statute that prevents someone from outside the patrol from being the commander," he said.

Stam says he expects broad support from state Republicans and hopes to tell the governor next week that they'd like to change the law when the Legislature meets in February.

"If you bring someone on board, you could bring them on board as an assistant secretary or some other position so they could be doing their planning budgeting," Stam said.

But political consultant Brad Crone says that's not good enough, he wants the governor to call a special session to get the law changed.

"It's better to have the law changed than to have promises from a bunch of politicians," he said.

However, none of it will matter if the panel recommends the governor go with someone already in the Highway Patrol.

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