State to monitor troopers' cell use

Staff WriterJuly 16, 2010 

— The N.C. Highway Patrol plans to require state troopers to provide supervisors with copies of their mobile phone bills to ensure that they are not spending too much time talking and texting while on the job.

The new policy, now under development, comes a month after a high-ranking state trooper was forced to resign over thousands of text messages sent to his secretary, some of which included sexual banter. Maj. Everett Clendenin sent and received the messages on a state-owned BlackBerry while both at work and at home, late at night.

Most troopers aren't provided with state-owned phones, but they often carry personal phones while on duty.

Sgt. Jeff Gordon, who replaced Clendenin as the spokesman for the Highway Patrol, said Thursday that the new policy is not aimed at invading troopers' privacy.

"It's not to monitor who they're calling or why they're calling, but to confirm that they are spending their time performing the duties they are sworn to uphold and that the taxpayers are paying them to do," Gordon said.

The new policy is part of wide-ranging ethics reforms being implemented at the patrol in the wake of several embarrassing recent episodes involving troopers' misconduct.

Gordon said he didn't know exactly when the new rule will take effect, but said he expects the patrol commander, Col. Randy Glover, to sign the policy when the specific language is finalized.

michael.biesecker@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4698

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