Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper has appointed state Capitol Police Chief R.E. “Chip” Hawley to serve as the director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Hawley will fill the vacancy left when Director Robert Schurmeier’s term ends on June 30, 2023.

“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,” Cooper said in a press release. “Chip Hawley brings decades of experience and leadership and strong law enforcement credentials to this role. I’m grateful for his willingness to serve North Carolina.”

Hawley has over 40 years of experience in state and local law enforcement. In addition to his current position, he previously worked at the Wake County Sheriff’s Office as the Major of Criminal Investigations, Major of Patrol Division, and Captain of Patrol Division. He has also worked as a police officer in the Coats Police Department and at North Carolina State University.

The SBI has seen its share of controversy recently.

Current Director Bob Schurmeier testified last month before the N.C. House Oversight and Reform Committee that there was a culture of political strong-arming from Cooper’s senior staff within the SBI, accusing them of interfering with his ability to manage direct reports, intimidating him with threats, and calling for his resignation.

Schurmeier pinpointed Cooper’s Chief of Staff Kristi Jones and General Counsel Eric Fletcher as being the couriers of the pressure campaign, threatening him with a “big investigation” and accusing him of racial discrimination if he did not resign. He refused to do so.

Cooper’s staff was supposed to testify before a legislative oversight committee on April 18, but Kristi Jones, Cooper’s chief of staff, refused to do so unless the director signed a waiver allowing a public discussion of the concerns. She is scheduled to testify next week.

If the General Assembly approves the nomination, Hawley will serve a six-year term.