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Cooper opposes moving SBI out of Justice Department

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Attorney General Roy Cooper spoke out Monday against a senate bill that would move the SBI out of the state Justice Department Attorney General Roy Cooper spoke out Monday against a senate bill that would move the SBI out of the state Justice Department

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina's Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper is opposing a state Senate budget provision that moves much of an investigative unit from his department to one headed by an appointee of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

Cooper spoke against the idea Monday alongside police chiefs and prosecutors who also oppose moving the State Bureau of Investigation to the Department of Public Safety.

"For over 75 years, the SBI has provided a check on power and no matter who controls the state Legislature, the Governor's office or the Attorney General's office, this system works best," Cooper said in an email release from office. "Putting the SBI under any Governor's administration increases the risk that corruption and cover up occur with impunity."

The SBI assists local law enforcement and pursues public corruption investigations. It is currently under the Attorney General's Department of Justice. State sheriff and police chief associations oppose the change.

"The SBI comes in with an attitude that says, ‘We're here to help,'" said Apex Chief of Police John Letteney, head of the NC Association of Chiefs of Police said in the same release through Cooper's office. "They're able to quickly respond to the needs of police across the state."

"The current structure provides the quick response that is so much needed by local Sheriffs to address emergent trends," said Sheriff Michael L. Welch of Caswell County, who also said that the NC Sheriffs' Association opposes moving the SBI. "Throughout my career, I've had the fortunate experience to be able to call upon the SBI and receive a quick response, expertise and technology."

Cooper argued the move could inject politics into corruption investigations by jeopardizing the agency's independence. The Republican-led Senate says the change makes organizational sense because most law enforcement functions are under the Department of Public Safety.

Copyright 2013 WECT. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.




 

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