Lawmakers Asks Governor to Remove Public Safety Director

Sgt. David Whatley handed in his resignation after testifying before a house oversight committee.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The South Carolina House Legislative Oversight Committee is asking the governor to force out the head of the state's public safety agency, saying they have no confidence in his leadership.

The lawmakers on the panel sent a letter to Gov. Henry McMaster this week calling on him t o push for the resignation of Leroy Smith. If that doesn't work, they want McMaster to see if he can remove him from office. 

The committee is accusing Smith of mismanagement of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, which oversees several state law enforcement agencies, the largest of which is the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The committee based their recommendation on reports that one in three officers in the force don't have confidence in Smith as their leader, and think senior leadership maintain "high standards of honesty and integrity." 

Just this week, Sgt. David Wheatley, a 29-year veteran of the highway patrol, said there was low morale, and that could potentially impact public safety. He also said internal investigations are unfair, and that the agency punishes people who don't support the director.

Wheatley then abruptly resigned his position during the same hearing. 

"When the climate at the Department of Public Safety is such that its mission is compromised as a consequence of the failure of leadership, change is needed," the committee wrote. "We have no confidence in the Director of the Department of Public Safety and believe the citizens of our great state, and the dedicated men and women of the Highway Patrol, deserve better."

Lawmakers have been complaining about Smith's leadership for years. Back in March, they symbolically stripped his salary from the budget. 

Only the governor has the power to appoint or remove the DPS director. 

 

 

 

 

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