New State Highway Patrol Commander Randy Glover took the job with a pledge to police the troopers' ethics. As recently as last month he told them they need to be "morally and ethically beyond reproach."
Glover didn't disclose until Monday that he too had failed to live up to the patrol's standards. He confirmed in an interview that in June 1987, the patrol transferred him out of his Harnett County assignment to another post 120 miles away because he had an extramarital affair.
His then-wife caught him in an off-duty relationship with a Harnett sheriff's dispatcher, he said. The wife reported it to his supervisor, and Glover admitted the affair. The couple separated that spring and were divorced in 1989.
"I made my mistakes, OK," Glover said. "I paid for my mistake dearly, more than you will ever know."
He said that mistake should not disqualify him from leading the 1,800-member patrol. Gov. Beverly Perdue, a New Bern Democrat, appointed him to the post in June.
"Now if this indiscretion was last week, last month, last year, I would say you probably had something," Glover said. "But it was 23 years ago. How much do I have to endure to prove that I have righted a wrong?"
The question may not be how long but whether Glover can objectively apply discipline in other cases of sexual impropriety within the patrol. Cases have happened with such frequency over the past 10 years that a special outside review was conducted last year to find the causes.
In June, for example, the patrol dismissed Sgt. Timothy White for unbecoming conduct after finding he had a sexual encounter with the wife of a master trooper in the back seat of a car after a Christmas party. The master trooper was in the front seat at the time; White has filed an appeal to get his job back.
Raleigh lawyer Michael C. Byrne represents troopers and other state employees seeking to overturn firings and other disciplinary measures. He said Glover's past indiscretion may make it difficult for him to discipline other troopers.
"They do tend to take a strong line in terms of moral conduct issues," Byrne said. "And if you are attempting to defend a dismissal of somebody based upon a moral conduct issue, then obviously the moral conduct of the decision maker becomes an issue."
Glover's affair ended his marriage and caused the patrol to transfer him to New Bern. He spent much of his 29-year career there before being promoted into the patrol's top leadership in Raleigh. He has since remarried, and his family continues to call New Bern home.
Candid with governor
Glover, 49, said Perdue promoted him despite knowing he had the affair in his past.
"It's one of those things that she needed to know," Glover said. "I wasn't going to go into this thing blind, and I didn't want her to go into this blind."
Perdue could not be reached for comment. She is on a nearly two-week trip to Japan and China.
A spokeswoman, Chrissy Pearson, said the governor is commited to Glover as commander.
N.C. Crime Control Secretary Reuben Young said Monday that he knew about the affair and transfer but he recommended Glover for the commander's post because he has had an exemplary career since then. Young did not see a problem with Glover handling patrol discipline.
"He's acknowledged and he has accepted responsibility for what was a mistake in his personal life over 22 years ago," Young said. "I've got confidence in his ability to lead the Highway Patrol and know that he'll do a great job."
Glover rose rapidly through the Patrol's upper ranks. He became a major in April 2007 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in September 2008. He became commander after Perdue forced out Glover's predecessor, Walter J. Wilson Jr.
The News & Observer initially sought to ask Glover, Perdue and Young about the details of the 1987 transfer shortly after Glover's appointment. None would consent to an interview. Spokespeople said they could not discuss the details because of the state's personnel law, which generally prevents the public from learning much about disciplinary actions of state employees.
The law allows department heads to make that information public when an agency's integrity is in question. Young declined to exercise that option regarding Glover. Young continues to stand behind that decision.
"It was a personnel issue, and I did not feel that it was appropriate at that point to use my discretion to make it public," Young said.
Glover said he did not disclose it four months ago because he considered it personal.
"It was buried, not to be secretive," Glover said. "Everybody who was around me at that time knew about it. It was no secret at all, but I moved on. I don't want to keep dredging this stuff up."
News researchers Brooke Cain and Lamara Williams contributed to this report.
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