SCDPS makes changes after review shows low morale, high turnover

COLUMBIA, S.C. – WSPA 7News took a deeper look at the Office of the Inspector General’s review of the Department of Public Safety.

The evaluation took a look at staffing issues, hiring procedures, and even procedures for violating department policies.

The report found the employees at the department had low morale, the department was understaffed and there was a high turnover rate. For fiscal year 2017, there were 253 vacant positions and 160 were with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

“It’s a security issue and if there are problems on the road, you’d want to know that you have plenty of security and help because those officers have a hard time and I would think the more of them the easier it would be for them,” Ruth Young said.

The director of the Department of Public Safety, Leroy Smith, issued the following statement:

SCDPS received the final report from the Inspector General’s Office regarding its recommendations for improving processes and efficiencies at the Department of Public Safety. The  Inspector General’s process is designed to help us become more efficient and provide better services to the people of our state and the visitors who travel our highways. We appreciate the work of the Inspector General’s Office on this study. The study helped us identify challenges as well as areas for improvement on critical issues such as morale. We have shared the report with SCDPS employees and have already implemented a number of the recommendations. We are continuing to review the recommendations and work toward strengthening our agency to best meet the needs of our workforce and  the citizens and visitors of our state.”

The report also suggests that low morale in the department contributes to the high turnover rate. Two hundred and six employees separated from the department this fiscal year; 145 were with highway patrol; 111 were uniformed officers.

“They need to fund public safety at an appropriate level and they’re not doing it. I can drive for 3 hours from here to Greenville and up towards Georgia and never see a state policemen,” said SC driver Rick Gray.

SCDPS says it has already started implementing some of the recommendations made in the review.

The hiring process has already been streamlined to get new troops on the road quicker. Instead of hiring troopers in large groups twice a year, the department is now hiring smaller groups once every three weeks. The agency has also revised its tattoo policy.