WILL NEW GOVERNOR HEAR THEM OUT?
Several S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP) troopers and their family members are seeking an audience with governor Henry McMaster in the hopes of convincing him to reconsider his support for embattled S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) director Leroy Smith.
As we noted in several recent stories (here and here), Smith’s agency is in real trouble … and has been for some time. In fact, several months ago we encouraged McMaster to make Smith one of his first “fires.”
The new governor appears to be of another mind on the subject, though … despite damning empirical evidence attesting to Smith’s failed leadership (and despite broad, bipartisan opposition to Smith among state lawmakers).
Just this week our website exclusively published several documents previously provided to the S.C. House government oversight committee – which is investigating SCDPS on a wide range of fronts.
These documents included internal SCDPS data detailing soaring traffic fatalities and lax law enforcement. They also contained allegations of misappropriated funds, poor recruitment (and retention) of officers and double standards in the administration of internal justice at the agency.
S.C. Rep. Weston Newton – who chairs the committee – told us he will withhold judgment on Smith until his panel releases his findings. However Newton did tell us he and his fellow committee members were “troubled by what we have learned so far” and of the opinion that “significant changes to the agency are necessary.”
The vast majority of State Troopers and their families feel the same way about Smith (below, center), we’re told.
(Click to view)
(Via S.C. Governor)
According to our sources, the purpose of the requested meeting with McMaster is to let front-line law enforcement officers and their supporters communicate their concerns about “safety and morale” directly to the governor.
“He needs to hear it from us,” one of the Troopers told us. “There’s no way he should be supporting (Smith).”
Will McMaster take the meeting? That’s a good question …
We reached out to the governor’s spokesman, Brian Symmes, but received no response from him.
Smith was appointed (against our advice) by former governor Nikki Haley in 2012. In addition to his current panoply of problems, he has a history of playing the race card in response to criticism – and has also been accused of discriminating on the basis of race in discharging his duties at SCDPS.
We will keep our readers updated as to the status of this meeting … in the event McMaster agrees to schedule it.
In the meantime, we would once again call upon the governor to exercise his authority in this matter and make a long-overdue change of leadership at SCDPS.
Banner via SCDPS