Panel recommends picking patrol leader now

(Image courtesy Flickr creative commons)

September 1, 2010 4:22:12 PM PDT
A blue-ribbon panel created to look at problems within the North Carolina Highway Patrol says Governor Beverly Perdue should avoid creating "indefinite limbo" by selecting the patrol's next commander under current rules that prevent an outsider from being appointed.

The patrol Leadership Advisory Group released its report Wednesday.

Click here to read the full report

The report suggests several policy changes designed to ensure patrol officers conduct themselves in a professional manner.

The group's report was due to Perdue on September 1 - Col. Randy Glover's last official day as commander. Perdue announced in mid-July Glover was stepping down after a year on the job after continued scrutiny of a series of recent scandals involving troopers.

Glover sent out an email to all highway patrol employees on his last day on the job in which he took a shot at the media who have uncovered so many problems within his agency.

"All the critics in the world can use their ink by the barrels to tear the organization down, but it will never extinguish the flame that we bear," wrote Glover. "They don't get it. The reasons are simple. We do it to protect and serve."

Click here to read the email

Governor Perdue thanked the advisory board for its work in a statement Wednesday and said some of its recommendations would be used.

"I have received the report from the advisory group on the State Highway Patrol and appreciate their hard work. They have made strong recommendations about how to proceed in identifying a new commander, and Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety Reuben Young and the Patrol plan to move forward with those steps," said Perdue in a statement after the report was released.

"The group also asked for additional time to examine other, broader issues, and I am happy to provide that flexibility," she continued.

Perdue organized the advisory group after a string of ethical lapses in the Highway Patrol. The force has seen a number of troopers resign or be fired for problems ranging from drunken driving arrests to sending inappropriate text messages.

Current state law essentially narrows the field of candidates for commander to people within the agency. The panel said Perdue should act now to replace Glover rather than wait until she can get the General Assembly to change that rule when it convenes next January.

If she waited, the group wrote, the "patrol would be in an 'indefinite limbo' in leadership and critical decision-making pending potential legislative action possibly for a period up to 18 months, if not longer."

The report also lays out a detailed selection process to choose Glover's successor that would appear to separate political considerations in presenting finalists to Perdue and ensure the winner would be above reproach.

All declared candidates should clearly articulate their qualifications and be subject to a thorough background investigation performed by an outside law enforcement agency or private firm. Unsolicited external contact or recommendations on behalf of a potential candidate "shall be documented as part of the process," according to the recommendation.

The report proposed policy changes laying out rules on troopers who want to moonlight, the use of personal cell phones and patrol vehicles.

The advisory group recommended that troopers must be required to notify the patrol communications center when a member of the opposite sex is placed in the patrol car for official business. In recent years, some troopers have been caught having sex in their patrol cars.

The panel's members included law professor Julius Chambers, former Chief Justice Burley Mitchell and Chris Swecker, a former FBI agent who co-authored a review of the State Bureau of Investigation's crime lab.

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