Panel's recommendations released with a whisper?

(Image courtesy Flickr creative commons)

January 18, 2011 8:24:16 PM PST
Governor Bev Perdue says the timing of the final report released by the blue-ribbon panel she appointed months ago to help figure out how to clean up the troubled agency, wasn't intentional.The series of recommendations put together by the group was released just after 5 p.m. Friday, right before a three-day weekend.

The report amounts to a roadmap for how the North Carolina Highway Patrol can rebuild its image, which took a beating last year after a series of scandals, many involving senior personnel.

However, the late release of the recommendations, has prompted questions from the ABC11 I-Team.

On Tuesday, neither Crime Control Secretary Reuben Young nor Highway Patrol Colonel Michael Gilchrist were available to talk about the report, but the governor did share some of her thoughts.

She said the timing of the release wasn't intentional and in fact, it worked out to everyone's advantage.

"It allows folks to have time to read it and to digest it and to make recommendations," Perdue said. "And then as the General Assembly and the general public come back to work today, they have the option to think about what the recommendations are."

However, Perdue says she received the report Thursday night - so why the delay on sharing it with the public?

"I wanted you all to have it after my team read it on Friday," Perdue told ABC11. "I said, let's release the report as soon as possible, we'll take all kinds of questions and commentary over the next week."

Meanwhile, Perdue did say they are reviewing the recommendations, but not which ones.

"We'll file a piece of legislation based on some of the pieces that were recommended," Perdue said. "I have not had a chance, I'll do that later today - to speak with the secretary, work with him, he is talking to the colonel as we speak."

Some of the things that were recommended, among other things, how to rebuild integrity and honor at the patrol, as well as a change in the law.

The first crack at a final report, highlighted areas where the panel thought the Highway Patrol could do better.

The same report was amended by patrol leadership and was offered to the rest of the panel for comment. The two versions are similar, but there are a few differences in writing.

Click here to read the initial report

Click here to read the final report

Among the recommendations in the final report; trail audits of serious misconduct cases that focus on supervisors, a re-investigation of every sworn employee every five years, and a quarterly report on disciplinary action that gets circulated throughout the patrol and is made public.

The panel also recommended changing state law.

Right now, commanders must be chosen from within the state Highway Patrol, but panel members suggest opening it up to a much broader pool of candidates, which would require legislative change.

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