North Carolina State Highway Patrol has a new commander

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Lt. Col. Glenn McNeill (WTVD)

The NC State Highway Patrol has a new commander, and he's using his story to inspire others. Col. Glen McNeill is the 27th Commander of North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

The 46-year-old husband and father is the second black man to hold the agency's highest office, which goes back 88 years. The first was Colonel Richard Holden serving from 1999-2004. He died in 2014.

"I am living my dream every day. Every day I'm living my dream," McNeill said.

McNeill's dream was born out of his worst nightmare. At the age of 10, his mother was murdered. No one has ever been charged.

"Whoever did that, I had to let it go," McNeill explained. "I hold in my heart how special my mother was to me. I'm sad because I wish she were physically here. I miss her so much right now."

A chance encounter with a Highway Patrol officer influenced his decision to go to college and then train to become a trooper.

Fueling his dream for more than two decades has been his desire to keep his community and colleagues safe. It's a message Gov. Roy Cooper touched on Friday.

"He followed his dream, he's gotten to the top," Cooper said. "But he knows that what he's got to do now is to instill confidence in everyone."

Restoring confidence that was recently broken after published reports of a trooper under investigation for going home while on duty.

A headline, he says, that will be overshadowed through his commitment to excellence within the agency.

"By showing the leadership example that I plan to set for them--that will not be an issue because I'm going hold them accountable," McNeill said.

This is his message to young people who may be inspired by his story of turning tragedy into triumph.

"If they would take the advice that was given to me--to stay out of trouble; go to school and get an education; set the bar high for yourself and dream and dream and dream. But be willing to do the work to achieve your dreams."

Lt. Col Vic Ward was also sworn-in Friday. He's been with the agency for 27 years.

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