State Highway Patrol troopers accused of lying about where they live

The North Carolina Highway Patrol says it has addressed recent problems reported in a state audit that found some patrol administrators and troopers violating agency policy by commuting long distances to work.

The audit found eight troopers past year failed to maintain their primary residence in the county where they worked or within 20 miles of the county line as required.

The State Auditor's Office investigated a tip about violations of the residency policy and found eight troopers, including a major, two captains and three lieutenants, all lived at least 68 miles from their duty stations.

The unnamed first sergeant from Watha, whose duty station is located in Wake County, lived approximately 86 miles from the Wake County line, according to the report.

Auditors criticized Highway Patrol management for not enforcing the policy. Some supervisors did not know if the troopers had completed the HP-740 form for their primary residences. The troopers ultimately acknowledged driving to those residences. They also failed to submit a "Request to Reside Outside County of Assigned Duty Station" for the location of their primary residences, according to the investigative report.

By not enforcing the residency policy, management created an environment where subordinate troopers were able to rationalize noncompliance or completely disregard the policy, the report states.

Records, however, showed the troopers were refueling near their primary homes, Wood found. Because troopers have to commute long distances, it adds to state fuel and maintenance costs for patrol vehicles and likely hinders response times, the audit states.

Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks, whose department oversees the 1,600 troopers, agreed with the audit findings and pointed out changes under new patrol commander Col. Glenn McNeill, appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper. "That being said, I want to assure you... we agree with the recommendations contained therein and I am pleased to report that each of the employees referred to in your report are now in compliance with policy".

"That being said, I want to assure you that Col. McNeill and I share the concerns expressed in your report, we agree with the recommendations contained therein and I am pleased to report that each of the employees referred to in your report are now in compliance with policy and that most of the remedial measures recommended in the report have already been implemented by Highway Patrol", Hooks wrote.

Supervisors failed to enforce the residency policy and obtain authorization for exceptions as required by the policy, according to the report.

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