Bryan Cohen May 22, 2013, 7:20pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper stated his opposition Monday to a state Senate budget proposal that would remove most of the State Bureau of Investigation under the state's executive branch.

Cooper and state law enforcement divisions oppose the move, claiming it would compromise the SBI's independence and jeopardize its quick response to local safety concerns. The budget proposal issued on Sunday would remove most of the SBI from the Department of Justice 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. "Putting the SBI under any governor's administration increases the risk that corruption and cover up occur with impunity."

Cooper said the Senate's plan to keep four or five people in his office to handle public corruption was nothing more than a fig leaf to cover a move that would significantly cripple public corruption inquiries. Cooper stood with more than a dozen chiefs of police, sheriffs, district attorneys and other law enforcement officials to oppose the proposals during a news conference on Monday.

In the past decade, SBI agents have looked into more than 500 public officials, including the Department of Public Safety and other executive branch agencies.

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