NIKKI HALEY’S PUBLIC SAFETY AGENCY HAS SOME EXPLAINING TO DO …
It its most recent accountability report, the S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) claims “the ultimate standard by which SCDPS measures its accomplishments is the success the agency has achieved in maintaining consistent reductions in serious injury crashes and fatal crashes during the period from 2007 to 2016 despite significant staffing losses, largely due to budget cuts, over the same period.”
Maintaining consistent reductions …
That’s good news, right?
The agency – part of S.C. governor Nikki Haley‘s cabinet – certainly thinks so. And its leaders are not at all shy when it comes to puffing their chests.
“These successes are clearly attributable to SCDPS management’s commitment to effectively allocating limited resources and its employees’ dedication to achieving the collective goal of Target Zero,” the report added.
Is any of that true, though? In a word, “No.”
A review of the accountability report (which nobody in the mainstream media apparently bothered to read) reveals a clear rise in the number of highway deaths over the last two fiscal years.
Take a look …
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In fiscal year 2013-14, 785 people were killed on Palmetto State highways. By fiscal year 2015-2016, that number had climbed to 1,012 – an increase of roughly 20 percent.
Does that sound like a “consistent reduction” to you?
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) affirms this recent spike. NHTSA showed 823 fatalities on South Carolina roads during 2014 compared to 977 in 2015. That’s a whopping 18.7 percent increase – nearly three times the national average increase of seven percent.
“The old ‘Highways or Dieways’ slogan could be changed by simply dropping the first two words,” one agency watchdog told us. “And the numbers truly make the current ‘Target Zero’ campaign, unfortunately, just empty feel good words.”
According to the watchdog, SCDPS has “copious reasons” ready to explain the increase in highway carnage.
“(The agency) will throw out the usual blather about the increase of licensed drivers, the increase in vehicle registrations, terrible road conditions, weather events … but what (it) absolutely refuses to say or do is assume any responsibility for the carnage.”
SCDPS has been an agency in turmoil under Leroy Smith – Haley’s twice-confirmed director.
While state budgets have skyrocketed – including steady increases in SCDPS funding – questions remain as to whether this money is making it to where the rubber meets the road. Literally.
(Click to view)
“One of, if not the most vital, tenet of law enforcement is visibility,” our source explained. “People are less likely to break the law if there is a police officer nearby. That’s why policemen used to walk beats – visibility deters crime.”
Are S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP) officers visible on South Carolina roads these days? Not really.
“Get on any interstate in South Carolina and drive from one city to another,” the watchdog suggested. “See how many marked Highway Patrol vehicles you come across. See how long it takes for a Trooper to respond to a collision in those high volume traffic areas.”
How many troopers are patrolling our roads? That’s a good question – and SCDPS’ answer appears to vary from moment to moment.
Last month the agency claimed there were 835 troopers patrolling the state’s roads. However in August its leaders told the S.C. House Legislative Oversight Committee the number was 760. According to the accountability report, the total was 780 troopers – however the agency testified in October to there being 809 troopers on the state’s roads.
This website has received additional information from multiple watchdogs at SCDPS – and we will be filing additional reports in the coming weeks related to the information we’ve obtained. In the meantime, we will continue to call for enhanced accountability at this agency – and for better appropriation of resources.
Don’t get us wrong: This is one area of government we enthusiastically embrace. Public safety is essential in protecting both the free market and individual freedom – vital to the protection of property and the preservation of life and liberty.
Law enforcement – unlike the majority of itemized appropriations contained in the state’s $28 billion budget – is a core function of government. And we believe it should be funded commensurately – which is why last year we called for pay raises for state troopers. All troopers.
These men and women put their lives on the line daily … and should be compensated accordingly.
It is frankly past time that our state made their service a priority … and put more of them on the road to keep us safe.
(Banner via SCDPS)