North Carolina

Highway Patrol dismisses NC State intern for ‘compromising’ promotions testing process

A North Carolina state trooper keeps an eye out for speeders along U.S. 601.
A North Carolina state trooper keeps an eye out for speeders along U.S. 601. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

A graduate student at N.C. State University was dismissed last month from an N.C. State Highway Patrol internship program for her role in “compromising the organization’s promotion process,” the State Highway Patrol said Thursday.

The State Highway Patrol was notified about irregularities in the promotion testing June 26 and subsequently halted all promotions while the Patrol conducts an internal investigation into the promotion process, according to a news release.

Unber Ahmad, the student employed by N.C. State to assist with promotion process, was removed from the internship program June 25, the release said.

The News & Observer reported June 28 that Highway Patrol Commander Glenn McNeill Jr. told patrol leaders that his office “received an allegation that the promotional process may have been compromised.” McNeill said as a result of this “serious” allegation, “regretfully, the promotional list will not be released on 1 July 2019.”

The patrol has said it developed its promotion process — which includes written exams and other factors — with help from N.C. State. McNeill said he decided to start the investigation after meeting with N.C. State officials.

N.C. State is continuing its internal audit and will provide the results to the State Highway Patrol when that investigation is completed, the release says.

Ahmad did not respond to an email from The News & Observer Monday about the promotions probe and could not be reached Thursday.

Mark Wilson, a psychology professor at N.C. State, leads its efforts to develop and administer the promotions test. He said in an interview with The News & Observer this week that the university has assisted the patrol on its promotions processes for roughly 20 years. This is the first time he could recall any issues surfacing regarding the test’s integrity, he said.

The current test includes policy questions, a personality quiz and about 40 examples of law enforcement situations in which troopers have to show how they would respond.

Wilson said he could not talk about the specifics of the investigation, referring those questions to the patrol.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest that we get to the bottom of this and everyone knows what happened,” he said.

The promotion process will move to the Highway Patrol’s Professional Standards Section July 15, the release says.

“The integrity of the promotion process is of the utmost importance,” McNeill said in Thursday’s news release. “It is without question that this organization is committed to maintaining high standards of credibility, integrity and fairness in each of its practices and the promotion process is no exception. Please know each step forward will be taken with great care to ensure that the process utilized for promotion opportunities is unimpeachable and in the best interest of our members.”

In an unrelated investigation, the State Highway Patrol said a trooper has been “separated” from the force and another is under investigation as the State Bureau of Investigation probes “ticket irregularities” in Harnett County.

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Joe Johnson is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer. He most recently covered towns in western Wake County and Chatham County. Before that, he covered high school sports for The Herald-Sun.
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