S.C. Department of Public Safety director announces departure after term ends

Leroy Smith announced in an email to employees of the South Carolina Department of Public...
Leroy Smith announced in an email to employees of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety Tuesday he would leave the agency at the end of his current term.(South Carolina Department of Public Safety)
Updated: Nov. 26, 2019 at 1:59 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The head of the state’s Department of Public Safety will leave the agency at the end of his current term in February.

Leroy Smith announced his departure in an email sent Tuesday afternoon to SCDPS staff members.

“I wanted to make you aware of some news with regard to my future with you here at the SC Department of Public Safety,” Smith wrote in that email. “As you may know, my second term as director ends in February 2020, and I will not be re-appointed for a third term to lead the agency.”

Former Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Smith to the role in November 2011.

The director oversees South Carolina’s largest law enforcement agency with an estimated 1,300 employees. The SCDPS is charged with enforcing the traffic, motor vehicle and motor carrier laws; educating the public on highway safety; administering highway safety and criminal justice grant programs; and providing security and safety services for public officials as well as state properties. The SCDPS includes the S.C. Highway Patrol; State Transport Police; Bureau of Protective Services; and the Immigration Enforcement Unit.

Smith released the following statement to the media Tuesday:

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.

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.

As director, Smith represents the agency and the governor on numerous committees, councils, and appointments: Governor’s Highway Safety Representative for South Carolina; Governor’s Homeland Security Council; Co-Chair, Commission on the Advancement of Public Safety; Counterterrorism Coordinating Council; Joint Terrorism Task Force; Emergency Response Commission; S.C. Commission on Prosecution Coordination; Vice Chairman, S.C. Law Enforcement Training Council; Chairman, S.C. Law Enforcement Hall of Fame Advisory Committee; Public Safety Coordinating Council; Impaired Driving Prevention Council; Opioid Emergency Response Team; S.C. Agency Director’s Organization; Take Palmetto Pride in Where You Live Commission; Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee Executive Board for the US Attorney’s Office, District of South Carolina.

Prior to Smith’s appointment to serve in South Carolina, he served as a major who managed the operations of the Florida Highway Patrol Training Academy; he also served as chief of the FHP Bureau of Investigations. Smith also previously served as Chief of the Office of Inspections and Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the agency.

Smith is a seasoned law enforcement professional with 30 years of experience and is a graduate of the 37th Session of the FBI National Executive Institute. Smith has a Master’s of Public Administration degree from Florida State University and has served four years in the United States Navy.

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