Politics & Government

NC Highway Patrol puts promotions on hold as it investigates process

The State Highway Patrol commander has launched an internal investigation into how promotions have been conducted and has halted the release of a list of those eligible for promotions. The moves came after the patrol received an allegation this week that the process “may have been compromised.”

An email provided to The News & Observer shows that on Wednesday, patrol commander Col. Glenn McNeill told patrol leaders he has directed internal affairs to investigate the allegation.

“The Commander’s Office has received an allegation that the promotional process may have been compromised,” McNeill wrote in the email. “The integrity of the promotional process is of utmost importance to the Highway Patrol, and I take this allegation seriously. Accordingly, immediately upon receiving this allegation, I directed Internal Affairs to initiate an internal administrative investigation and it is currently ongoing.”

The patrol said it developed its promotion process — which includes written exams and other factors — with help from N.C. State University. McNeill said he decided to start the investigation after meeting with N.C. State officials.

McNeill said as a result of this “serious” allegation, “regretfully, the promotional list will not be released on 1 July 2019,” which is Monday.

Sgt. Mike Baker, a highway patrol spokesman, confirmed the email and the investigation.

“It’s still an investigation, and that’s all I can say about it at this point,” Baker said. “Internal affairs is investigating the allegations and when the investigation concludes the patrol will make a determination as to where we go from there.”

He said the promotions list identifies troopers eligible for promotion. The commander then has a year to make promotions from the list.

In February, the patrol announced 66 promotions within the ranks, ranging from lieutenant colonel to sergeant. Another 10 civilian employees were also promoted.

Gov. Roy Cooper appointed McNeill commander shortly after taking office in 2017. McNeill has been with the patrol since 1994.

Dan Kane began working for The News & Observer in 1997. He covered local government, higher education and the state legislature before joining the investigative team in 2009.