I, along with most everyone from Raleigh, love New Hanover County. Its shiny beaches are a short two hours away and for the most part, two turns from my house (right on I-40, left on Hwy 74 towards Wrightsville Beach). Camping on Masonboro, four-wheeling on Carolina Beach, running the Loop, or simply enjoying the battleship or downtown district are always fun, and are a convenient get-away for many of us in the 919.
My best friend is a cop. I feel law enforcement gets a bad rap most of the time. But you always welcome that wave of relief when say for instance you hear someone breaking into your house late at night, or you’re robbed at gunpoint and that person is later caught – as what happened to me last summer in Charlotte.
While I was in Wilmington last weekend for 4th of July, I was both impressed by the amount of police out maintaining order, and sorry for the very rough crowd they had to deal with. At the same time, I wondered how two State Troopers patrolling the same county, could turn law enforcement into a wrongful weapon of fear and blatant abuse of power.
Imagine the one person you care for most in this world, being practically abducted in front of you by law enforcement, when no crime had been committed. Now you’re following that person, held captive in a State Highway Patrol car to the county magistrate’s office and you’re pulled by another SHP car, in what cannot be a coincidence.
I cannot explain the sense of fear and anger you might have for your loved one, much less for yourself, but I imagine it might be one of the colder sweats you’ll ever have.
(If you haven’t read the story, WRAL has a good write-up here)
This chilling incident is only one in a string of not-so-stellar events for the State Highway Patrol and Governor Perdue:
· 2008: Patrolman Michael Steele Jr. is sentenced to seven years in prison for abducting and fondling Hispanic women at traffic stops.
· July 2009: Perdue appoints long-time friend Randy Glover to commander of the NC Highway Patrol (nearly a decade after an FBI investigation closes their case on his promotion and transfer by then, state senator Perdue who sits on the committee overseeing his agency’s funding).
· May 2010: Capt. James Williams Jr. is caught driving drunk and is bounced from the patrol.
· June 2010: NC Patrolman Larry Lovicka resigns during investigations of alleged misconduct by a woman during a traffic stop.
· June 2010: Maj. Everett Clendenin resigns amid findings he used a state-owned BlackBerry to fuel a romantic relationship with his secretary, who is also married to a trooper.
· June 2010 (last June mention): Master Trooper Timothy Swiwinter resigns after a drunken driving ticket received in Asheville.
· July 2010: Glover resigns amid the trouble.
· July 2010: Gov. Perdue appoints an advisory panel to gosh-darned it, find out what’s wrong with the SHP.
· Fall 2010-Jan 2011: Panel looks into it and after a year, the hefty seven-page report, reports that the misbehavior should be looked into.
After three years of violent misconduct, one would think we’d be close to a non-sexually threatening State Highway Patrol, but it appears the end is far from sight.
North Carolina deserves far better than to live in fear of the very people hired to protect them.