RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The next person to run the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation will do so in the middle of controversy.
Tuesday an NC House committee questioned members of Governor Roy Cooper’s office about claims made by current SBI director Bob Schurmeier. Schurmeier has alleged several of the Governor’s top aides tried to get him to resign.
Among those testifying were Governor Cooper’s general counsel Eric Fletcher, SBI general counsel Angel Gray and Cooper’s chief of staff, Kristi Jones.
When questioned about a meeting with Schurmeier, Jones told the committee that “serious allegations of concern were brought to the attention of the governor’s office and when those concerns were brought to the Office of the Governor we had to take those seriously and what we did at that time was shared with Director Schurmeier.”
The three declined to answer multiple questions, including whether Schurmeier was asked to resign, citing confidentiality of personnel matters and attorney-client privilege.
Schurmeier’s term ends June 30 and Governor Cooper has nominated Chip Hawley, the Chief of the North Carolina State Capitol Police, to replace him. Chief Hawley is already getting high marks from members of law enforcement and both political parties.
“With this role you have to be willing to stand your ground for the right reasons no matter the political pressures and I’ve seen him do that,” Roxboro Police Chief David Hess told CBS 17.
“He’s not going to make decisions based on political priorities, which I think makes him uniquely positioned to help anyone in the state whether it’s a police chief, a sheriff, an elected official or a citizen. The ability to use wisdom and discernment in his role is critically important,” Hess added. “I can’t think of anyone else who has the ability during this critical time of transition for the bureau to work independently and place the best interest of North Carolina on the forefront.”
Chief Hess has known Hawley both professionally and personally for 19 years, including serving together on the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police. Hawley also served in the Wake County Sheriff’s Office as the Major of Criminal Investigations, Major of the Patrol Division and Captain of the Patrol Division.
The SBI works closely with local law enforcement agencies across the state including the investigation of officer-involved shootings.
Hawley’s nomination has to be approved by the legislature. Chief Hess reminds everyone the roll SBI Director is crucial.
“And he’s going to do it with the constitution in mind, with policy and procedure in mind, with statutory regulations in mind and doing what’s right for the people. Whether that’s agents in the bureau, local law enforcement or the people of North Carolina,” said Hess.