S.C. public safety official fired after traffic stop

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COLUMBIA — The internal affairs chief for the South Carolina Department of Public Safety has been fired after arguing with a state trooper during a traffic stop.

Records obtained by Columbia’s WIS-TV show the officer pulled over Bobby Collins on Jan. 10 because he saw him swerve and thought he was driving drunk.

The trooper’s dashboard camera shows Collins telling the officer he was going to the store and only swerved as he put the cap back on a bottle of orange juice. Later in the 80-minute traffic stop, the trooper puts Collins in handcuffs because he refused to cooperate with field sobriety tests.

“What you are doing to me now is basically what South Carolina has had a bad reputation for through the years,” Collins is heard saying during the stop, which was captured on the trooper’s dashboard camera.

Collins would eventually take the field sobriety tests and pass them all. He was not charged, but Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith fired Collins for his behavior. Collins has not spoken publicly about the firing.

Smith wouldn’t talk further, saying it was a personnel matter.

Collins was the chief of the Office of Professional Responsibility. He worked with Smith in Florida and came to the agency in 2012.

During the stop, Collins asked for the trooper’s supervisor and other officials. A Highway Patrol corporal arrived after about 30 minutes and spoke to his supervisors off camera.

“It’s a culture here,” Collins said during the stop. “And even when you realize it, you don’t have the humility to say, ‘You know what? I made a mistake.’ ”

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