COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday named a 22-year veteran of Florida’s Highway Patrol as the new leader of South Carolina’s Department of Public Safety, signaling that she wants to move past affair allegations swirling around the interim director.
Haley’s announcement ends months of questions about who would run the agency that oversees the state Highway Patrol, the state Transport Police and Bureau of Protective Services. Since August, the attorney general’s office has been investigating a complaint against interim director Kenny Lancaster. The colonel was promoted in June when Haley put former Director Mark Keel in charge of the State Law Enforcement Division.
Haley has previously said Lancaster wanted the permanent post and interviewed for it.
The announcement shows “it’s time to move on,” Haley said. “My job was to find someone that would lead the officers in a way that they understood we had their back.”
Her choice to lead the agency, 46-year-old Maj. Leroy Smith, has been with the Florida Highway Patrol since 1989. He was named that agency’s chief of investigations in January 2010. Smith will take the helm on Nov. 15.
Haley and Smith said they have made no decision on Lancaster’s future.
In August, a Beaufort woman alleged she and Lancaster began an affair in 1992 and that, when she married in 1993 and ended it, the married Lancaster harassed her trooper-husband out of jealous retaliation. He was eventually fired in 2008. Ali Rowell also alleged that Lancaster inappropriately used his patrol car to run errands in a photography business with her, often while on duty.