Bernard Collier II, the longtime State Bureau of Investigation agent who has been acting director of the law enforcement agency for the past six months, is the governor’s permanent choice for the job.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s office announced the decision on Thursday. He will have to be confirmed by the General Assembly for the eight-year term.
The change of leadership comes after the governor and state legislature last year moved the SBI from under the attorney general to the state Department of Public Safety, which is a cabinet department under McCrory’s control. Some Democrats criticized the move as politically motivated, because Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper is expected to run for governor next year.
The governor and Republican lawmakers said it made sense to consolidate most of the state’s law enforcement agencies under a single department. Cooper and others argued that the SBI would be less independent if it was under the governor’s control, especially when investigating public corruption cases.
Republicans came up with the unusually long, eight-year term as a way to ensure independence by protecting the director’s position from the whims of the current and future governors.
Greg McLeod headed the SBI for four years until McCrory replaced him by naming Collier acting director in August. McLeod was Cooper’s legislative counsel and policy adviser before his appointment in 2010, when he was brought in to help reform the SBI following well-publicized problems.
Collier will oversee more than 300 SBI and Alcohol Law Enforcement agents. Over 26 years, he has worked in a wide range of positions while an SBI agent. He became director of ALE in 2013.
He’s a native North Carolinian and a graduate of N.C. State University.
“The SBI has made tremendous progress under B.W. Collier’s leadership,” McCrory said in a statement. “His intelligence and experience has reformed the agency and I am pleased to nominate him as the official SBI director.”
Collier is making $112,642 a year.