The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday May 10th

Let the public know: State must explain why two probation officers demoted after Eve Carson tragedy were reinstated

Without any public justification, the state has quietly reinstated to their roles as supervisors two probation officials who were demoted last year.

Now the state needs to tell everyone why.

The demotions came after an internal investigation into the probationary system following the arrests of Demario James Atwater and Laurence Alvin Lovette.

The two men were on probation when charged with the death of former Student Body President Eve Carson.

The internal investigation by the N.C. Department of Correction after Carson’s death revealed incompetency within the state’s probation system.

Several officers resigned following the investigation, which showed that Atwater and Lovette were inadequately supervised.

But the internal investigation didn’t disclose any reason for these two supervisors’ demotions, and the corrections department has not provided reasons for reinstating the officials back to their previous positions.

This is unacceptable. In a case of this magnitude, the public must know why the reinstatements were made.

State law allows agencies to keep personnel files from the public.

But a clause in the law calls for the information to be released if public confidence in the agency is shaken.

This is one of those cases.

Cheryl Morris and Cindy Faison, the chief probation and parole officers, will be receiving back pay that will compensate them for money lost during the demotion. Their disciplinary records also will be expunged.

The public cannot make a judgement on whether they deserve reinstatement and back pay with the information currently available.

But the Carson tragedy affected a very large community that deserves an explanation for these rulings.

The state needs to cite reasons for its actions so the public can hold it accountable.

Admittedly, the state must fill positions within the system with experienced personnel.

And the demotions could have come for a variety of reasons — from outright negligence to a technical detail.

But that doesn’t give the state the right to exonerate these individuals without justifying its actions to the public.

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