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I can save the State of North Carolina $98,000.



The state has given a contract that size to a consulting company “to conduct an in-depth review of the state Highway Patrol’s policies for hiring, training and promoting troopers.”



Governor Easley ordered the review after a series of embarrassing cases of trooper misconduct, including some titillating sex capers.



Here’s the problem (and everybody who has ever been in state politics knows this): The Highway Patrol is one of the most political agencies in state government.



For decades, hirings and promotions have been based on who a trooper knows – who his or her political connections are.



It starts at the top, where Governors select Patrol commanders. Legislators, campaign contributors and everybody in politics lobbies to get their favorites in the Patrol hired and promoted – and their enemies fired and demoted.



The culture is ingrained, and it’s been ever so.



I’m no law enforcement expert, but that has to be the antithesis of a professional police agency.



How you change it, I don’t know. But let’s not kid ourselves about what the problem is.



I’ll look for my check expressing the state’s appreciation.



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