Governor Roy Cooper announces that Glenn McNeill will be North Carolina's new commander
Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that he’s picked State Highway Patrol veteran Glenn McNeill as the agency’s new commander. McNeill replaces Col. William Grey, who led the agency throughout Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s term and retired abruptly in January. It’s common for new governors to pick new Highway Patrol commanders as the role traditionally is a political position. McNeill is a Reidsville native who’s served with the Highway Patrol since 1994. He’s been the agency’s director of training since 2014 and completed the FBI’s National Academy in 2015. Lt. Col. Vic Ward, who’s been serving as acting commander since Grey’s departure, will now be the deputy commander under McNeill. “These men have dedicated their careers to serving the state with professionalism, high moral character and integrity,” Secretary of Public Safety Erik Hooks said in a news release. “They both have a broad range of experience in the Highway Patrol and have garnered well deserved respect of their fellow troopers and other law enforcement.” McNeill’s appointment means that the state’s two top law enforcement officials – Highway Patrol commander and secretary of public safety – are African-American. Cooper promoted Hooks from within the State Bureau of Investigation, where he was the special agent in charge overseeing the inspections and compliance unit. The Department of Public Safety oversees the patrol and the SBI as well as the state’s prison, juvenile justice and emergency management agencies.McNeill spoke to Highway Patrol cadets at their graduation ceremony in November. “You must demonstrate a commitment to justice, diversity and equal treatment to all we serve,” he told them, according to a news release about the ceremony. “You are ambassadors for our state, so be the professionals you were trained to be and make sure your actions are filled with integrity and your heart encircled with loyalty.”N.C. Troopers Association President Daniel Jenkins issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying his group “looks forward to working with the new command staff to continue improving the Highway Patrol and protecting the citizens of N.C.”
Missouri State Highway Patrol acting superintendent reflects on changes in Highway Patrol, society
Minutes after being named as the Missouri Highway Patrol's next superintendent, Lt. Col. Sandra Karsten last Wednesday told the 29 members of the current recruit class: "The Patrol is a great organization — I've had a passion for it since I was 17 years old." Karsten, 53, will be the 23rd superintendent — and the first woman to be appointed to head the now-85-year-old Patrol. She holds the job on an "acting" basis until she is confirmed by the Missouri Senate — with her confirmation hearing to be scheduled during this legislative session. "I have an older brother and grew up on a farm, and anything he could do, I could do," she said, explaining her initial interest in the Patrol and a law enforcement career. "I attended the program by the American Legion Cadet Patrol Academy, here (at General Headquarters) — it's a week for 16- to 18-year-olds, and they introduce you to recruit training. "I was so impressed that I wanted to be a part of that organization." But first, after graduating from high school, Karsten went to Truman State University, graduating in May 1985 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. She joined the Highway Patrol in September 1985 and began training with the other new recruits of the 57th Recruit Class — 11 years after the first women had attended the Patrol Academy. (The current group is the 104th Recruit Class). Since joining the Patrol, Karsten also has earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Missouri. After graduating from the Patrol Academy, she was assigned to road duties in Callaway and Audrain counties — and noted the technology used by the Patrol today is far-advanced from what was available 31 years ago. "When I came on, we had a high- and a low-band radio," she recalled. "Now we have a digital system" as well as the use of cellphones and computers in cars. "It's just amazing how much technology is in the cars now," she said. She also pointed to engineering changes — like median cable barriers on interstate highways and primary routes like U.S. 63 — that have occurred over the years. Big changes also have occurred in personnel policies, she reported — and she helped the Patrol develop some of them. "When I became pregnant the first time, there was no policy on what to do with a pregnant trooper," Karsten recalled. "So, through the course of my pregnancy, I was able to develop a policy. "It's a temporary condition — it doesn't last forever, thank goodness — so we were able to treat it as that." Yes, she acknowledged — the Patrol didn't have a policy for dealing with pregnant employees, even though she wasn't the first woman to work for the agency. "How they dealt with it with the first women was," Karsten explained, "she knew, 'If I get pregnant, I have to stop working for the Patrol.' "We even had that in the 1960s and early '70s — that many of our civilian employees, when they became pregnant, had to stop working for the Patrol until the pregnancy was concluded." Today, the new superintendent said, the Patrol has changed a great deal. "We're very inclusive of all people, now — whether it's a mom, a dad, a partner or whatever the case may be," Karsten said. "I think this signifies how we have grown as an organization." While society has changed, she acknowledged many women still face choices and decisions men usually don't have to make. "In the Patrol, we have so many opportunities, career-wise, that as a mother I had to look at some of those whenever we had children — was it going to be conducive for me to continue working the road?" Karsten explained. "And it was! "I had very supportive supervisors (and) very supportive lieutenants, and since then, I came off the road and we had another child. And that support continued." When asked what advice she might offer to women working in a male-dominated industry, she told reporters: "Sometimes, you've got to figure out how to navigate in a male-dominated profession — sometimes with a sense of humor, sometimes with your proper attitude. "What I have found, though, is that my husband was the greatest partner I could choose, and he has been very supportive. "I would be very careful in selecting your life-mates, is my advice."
Pennsylvania State Police loosens college requirement amid looming trooper shortage
Incoming cadets will no longer have to obtain an associate's degree or 60 hours of college credit prior to applying to the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, the agency announced Tuesday. The move is part of a number of changes designed to boost recruitment amid an anticipated wave of trooper retirements and flagging enrollment. "This change gives applicants greater flexibility when planning for their career with the Pennsylvania State Police," Commissioner Tyree C. Blocker said, in a written statement. "The change, while not lowering standards, allows individuals to continue their education while in the application process." Blocker said cadets would still be required to meet the education requirement before training began. Hundreds of troopers are expected to retire this year as those who graduated from the academy during a hiring wave in the early '90s become eligible for retirement. In Pennsylvania, state troopers may retire with a partial pension after 20 years of service or a full pension after 25 years. Last year, the academy's four cadet classes graduated a total of 271 new troopers at the same time that 800 others reached retirement age. That level of incoming troopers fell far behind 2015's four classes, which graduated 406. It typically takes cadets between a year and 18 months to move through the process, from application through graduation from the academy. This year, 800 troopers become eligible to retire as 350 cadets are expected to replenish the ranks. Meanwhile, a new administration has set about improving diversity in an agency that has seen its share of nonwhite troopers dwindle from 12 percent in 1999 to about 6 percent today. Earlier this month, the state police eliminated a requirement that all recruits pass a lie-detector test. State police officials previously told PennLive that the polygraphs were comprehensive enough that they could snag prospective cadets on minor infractions they thought were well behind them. The move garnered criticism among the rank-and-file, as well as from the union that represents current troopers. Other requirements have not changed. Cadets must be at least 20 years old when they complete the application. In order to be appointed to the academy, they must be between 21 and 40 years old. They must also take a written and oral examination. After those preliminary steps, cadets move on to a background check, physical testing and medical and psychological evaluations. Cadets who make it to the 27-week training program at the academy earn a $1,200 biweekly salary. The starting salary for troopers is set at $58,962.
Governor Eric Greitens names Sandy Karsten as first women to lead Missouri Highway Patrol
Gov. Eric Greitens on Wednesday named Lt. Col. Sandy Karsten as the new chief of the Missouri Highway Patrol, the first woman to hold the position in the patrol’s 81-year history. As lieutenant colonel, Karsten has served as the second-ranking patrol officer under Nixon appointee Col. Bret Johnson, who has retired. She began her career as a trooper, and is now tasked with overseeing more than 1,000 uniformed officers. Making the announcement after speaking to new recruits, Greitens highlighted both Karsten's experience and volunteer work in the community, saying Karsten has “led at every level with courage and commitment.” He also reiterated his support for law enforcement – a priority he’s highlighted since becoming chief executive on Jan. 9, pushing for an alert system to help locate those who’ve harmed officers and tough criminal penalties for harming officers. "I am always going to stand with our law enforcement officers on the front lines," Greitens said.