Perdue close to picking Patrol commander

(Image courtesy Flickr creative commons)

October 18, 2010 4:55:52 PM PDT
We could find out within days who will take over as commander of the NC Highway Patrol, but larger issues within the agency remain unexamined weeks after a blue ribbon panel asked for more information and more time to examine the problems.

Former commander Colonel Randy Glover stepped down from the post last month following several cases of trooper misconduct. Second in command, Lt. Col. Michael Gilchrist has done both jobs since Glover stepped down. It's unclear if he's in the running for the permanent spot.

Crime Control and Public Safety Secretary Reuben Young is scheduled to meet with Governor Beverly Perdue this week about the final candidates for the job.

The governor will then personally interview the finalists. Perdue says she hopes to have someone at the helm of the patrol by the end of the month.

"My goal in my mind has always been by the end of October and I think we are going to be on that time schedule," Perdue said Friday.

"I think they have two or three top tier candidates I think the background checks have been done I will get a total report and I hope to do it as expeditiously as possible," she continued.

But the blue ribbon panel Perdue appointed months ago to look at problems within the agency and help her find the right person for the job still hasn't completely finished its job.

Two questions remain:

· Does a recent string of embarrassments at the patrol indicate a more serious, institutional problem?

· And, if so, should the top job should go to an outsider instead of someone who's come up through the ranks?

Current state law forces Perdue to pick someone from within the agency and only the Legislature can change that rule.

The panel gave Perdue an unfinished report on September 1 asking for more time, but suggesting the governor hire someone immediately from within so the patrol wouldn't remain in "indefinite limbo."

"Obviously we have some other issues that we need to address and we will do that, and I am sure the people that have applied realize that is their responsibility if they take over as commander of the Highway Patrol," said Young.

As for when the panel will finish its final report? Sources tell ABC11 it's not even close. In fact, members are still waiting for data they requested in early September.

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