NC troopers violated residency policy, state audit says

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The North Carolina State Auditor discovered eight State Highway Patrol troopers stationed in Wake and Cumberland counties violated residency policy — the second year in a row the was violated.

North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood says in some cases North Carolina State Highway Patrol Troopers are driving more than 100 miles to work in state-owned vehicles

Wood says this is a problem because the farther these troopers live from where they patrol, the longer their response times are.

But this is not a new issue.

Wood says policy requires troopers to live at most 20 miles away from the county line where they are stationed.

In 2016, Wood found a State Highway Patrol trooper was driving more than 85 miles one-way to work. The violation cost tax payers about $9,400.

This year, the auditor’s investigation determined the problem only got worse.

“They had a chance to take a look at this policy and fix it and ramp up to get it taken care of. And we walk in there and find it eight more times,” said Wood.

Wood says the extra cost to tax payers is a minor concern when considering how the distance these troopers drive to work may impact response times.

In documents CBS North Carolina obtained, we found eight troopers working in Wake and Cumberland counties violated residency policy.

The documents show five out of the eight troopers drove more than 100 miles from their homes to work. The longest distance was a captain commuting from Morganton to work in Wake County, a total distance of 187 miles.

“If they are living 187 miles away and they are needed in the county of their duty station just think how long it would take them to get there,” said Wood

Wood says change needs to happen.

“How can they expect to hold others accountable, for the laws, the policies, the rules of our highways? Realistically how can they,” she asked.

CBS North Carolina asked State Highway Patrol officials after two years in a row of residency violations, what changes are being made.

“I won’t’ say we had any problems or issues. We dealt with those individuals who were not abiding by the residency policy on a case by case basis,” said Sgt. Mike Baker of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

In February of 2017, a new command staff took over North Carolina State Highway Patrol, essentially inheriting the residency violations which happened before their tenure.

Baker says the new command staff takes these violations seriously.

“They are holding our members to strict adherence of that policy and they will continue to do so,” he said.

A new residency policy has been created since these violations.

Instead of measuring the distance from where troopers are permitted to live by miles, the new measurement will be gauged by time.

All troopers were required to acknowledge the new policy.