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House Panel To Press Henry McMaster On SCDPS Debacle

Governor urged to fire embattled public safety director …

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South Carolina governor Henry McMaster will receive a letter this week from members of the S.C. House legislative oversight committee urging him to get rid of embattled S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) director Leroy Smith.

Frankly, we hope he heeds it …

The committee’s “no confidence” letter is being prepared in the aftermath of this week’s dramatic hearing into Smith’s ongoing mismanagement of this agency.

The hearing – held Monday morning on the grounds of the S.C. State House – further exposed the extent to which Smith is failing in his “leadership” of SCDPS.  It also exposed the extent to which McMaster is failing state troopers – as well as citizens and taxpayers of the Palmetto State – by keeping Smith employed in a job he never should have been hired to do in the first place.

The biggest problem at SCDPS?  Steadily worsening shortages of troopers caused by poor recruitment and retention on the part of agency leaders.  These trooper shortages come despite SCDPS spending somewhere between $9 and $21 million over the past four years in an effort to recruit and retain S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP) troopers.

Not only did SCDPS prove unable to hire new troopers and keep them on the job, its leaders still have no idea how much money was spent in their failed efforts. 

Lawmakers got a first-hand look at SCDPS’ retention problem during Monday’s hearing when a 29-year veteran of the SCHP submitted his letter of resignation to Smith – whom he blasted as a “vindictive” leader.

“I cannot effectively do my job,” SCHP sergeant David Watley of Florence, S.C. told the panel before turning around and presenting Smith with his letter of resignation.

Watley said that he and other state troopers in South Carolina were being asked to work “with one hand tied behind (our) back,” and that Smith and his senior commanders have a habit of drawing a line in the sand “and then they keep on moving the line.”

State representative Eddie Tallon – a retired agent of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – confirmed to this news site that a “no confidence” letter to McMaster was being prepared for circulation among members of the committee.

“The public should be very upset with what’s going on at the department of public safety,” Tallon told us.

He’s absolutely correct …

Tallon led the subcommittee that issued a damning report of SCDPS mismanagement earlier this year.  That report blasted the agency for soaring traffic fatalities, lax law enforcement, misappropriation of public funds and poor recruitment (and retention) of officers.

On Monday, the full oversight committee voted to adopt Tallon’s report – much of which was subsequently confirmed by a separate inquiry conducted by the S.C. Office of Inspector General (SCOIG).  News of the SCOIG report – and a draft copy of the report itself – were both exclusively reported by this news site last month.

In addition to Tallon, we spoke with four members of the panel who planned to sign the letter.

One lawmaker, state representative Neal Collins, expressed his position publicly on social media.

“I will be joining the committee in asking for his resignation,” Collins tweeted shortly after the hearing.

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