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.”