S.C. Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith will not be reappointed by Gov. Henry McMaster, according to a release obtained by The Georgetown Times.
Director Smith is one of the three African American cabinet heads in South Carolina appointed in office by former Gov. Nikki Haley in 2011. He is a seasoned law enforcement professional serving in law enforcement for over 30 years. Smith was charged to lead the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) overseeing South Carolina’s largest law enforcement agency – estimated 1,300 employees including the following law enforcement divisions: S.C. Highway Patrol; State Transport Police; Bureau of Protective Services; and the Immigration Enforcement Unit.
Smith will step down once his second term ends in February. The decision comes after years of legislative efforts to get Smith out of office with SC House of Representatives voted to fire him in 2017. Controversy of Smith’s leadership of his agency led to allegations of unsafe working conditions and other concerns in the department.
In a letter addressed to his employees Tuesday, Smith let them know that he will not be returning as Director. He thanked former Gov. Nikki Haley for appointing him eight years ago and McMaster for their continued support.
“I have learned that I will not be re-appointed for a third term as director of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. While this news is disappointing to me on a personal level, my heart has always been geared toward being a team player and supporting the mission of this great organization” Smith said in his letter.
“During my eight years as director of SCDPS, I feel that my team accomplished much in making our state a safer one and improving conditions for our men and women who serve. We raised troopers’ salaries to bolster recruiting and retention; put measures in place to enhance officer safety; and used technology to ensure troopers and officers spent more time on the road and less time behind the desk We worked alongside our partners during times of crisis such as the Charleston church shootings, the 1,000 Year Flood, Hurricanes and Winter Storms.”
Our troopers and officers are now trained and equipped with the latest technology to fight crime and protect citizens on our roadways and beyond. The law enforcement officer of today is very different from the one even a decade ago. My leadership team and I have strived to stay ahead of trends in law enforcement and crime to better protect the citizens and visitors traveling the roadways of our state as well as ensuring the safety of our men and women in uniform.
As I reflect on these many accomplishments, I find myself grateful for the privilege of having served two terms and getting to see many of the hopes and dreams I had for this agency come to fruition with the help of TEAM DPS and our partners. I will do all that I can in the coming weeks to assist Gov. McMaster in ensuring a smooth transition in leadership.
McMaster has until Dec. 1 to appoint a replacement and would have to be approved by the state Senate. As of this time, the governor has not yet named an appointment.
“I would like to thank Director Smith for his distinguished service to our state and for his leadership and professionalism,” McMaster said in a statement. “His assistance in making the leadership transition at the Department of Public Safety a smooth and seamless one will be invaluable.”
This is a developing story. More updates will be added.