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State Capitol Police chief is Gov. Cooper's choice to lead SBI

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper addresses a crowd Thursday in advance of Vice President Kamala Harris speaking at the Durham Center for Senior Life highlighting the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to lowering costs through the Inflation Reduction Act.
Kate Medley
FILE — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper addresses a crowd in Sept. 2022 in advance of Vice President Kamala Harris speaking at the Durham Center for Senior Life.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that the head of the police agency that patrols and investigates crimes on Raleigh-area state government property is his choice to become the next director of the State Bureau of Investigation.

State Capitol Police Chief R.E. “Chip” Hawley will fill the post being vacated when current Director Bob Schurmeier’s term ends on June 30. Nominated for a six-year term, Hawley is subject to General Assembly confirmation.

State law required Cooper to name his choice for director by Monday.

The SBI investigates crimes across the state, holding original jurisdiction over several areas including drug investigations, election law violations and computer crimes against children. The agency also handles public corruption cases and is brought in to investigate officer-involved shootings.

“The SBI is North Carolina’s premier law enforcement agency and it’s critical that it has strong leadership focused on keeping North Carolinians safe and who will maintain the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. Chip Hawley brings decades of experience and leadership and strong law enforcement credentials to this role,” Cooper said in a news release.

Hawley formerly worked with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and police departments at N.C. State University and the Harnett County town of Coats.

The SBI is an independent agency that directly reports to the governor. It is housed administratively within the Department of Public Safety. The House budget approved by the chamber earlier this month would turn the SBI into a standalone Cabinet-level agency.

The close of Schurmeier’s tenure has been marked by tensions surfacing between the director and Cooper's administration.

Schurmeier told a House committee in March that Cooper’s office attempted to interfere in his hiring decisions and sought his removal.

Cooper Chief of Staff Kristi Jones is scheduled to appear before the same committee next week. Jones wrote lawmakers last month that current and former agents and staff have raised concerns about SBI promotion decisions, training access and racial diversity among sworn agents.

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