South Carolina Highway Patrol gets first African-American commander

SCHP New Commander

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety announced Friday that Director Leroy Smith has named a new Highway Patrol commander.  Christopher Williamson, a 29-year HP veteran, was chosen to succeed Col. Michael Oliver, who is retiring after 35 years with the patrol.  Williamson makes history as the first African-American commander to lead the S.C. Highway Patrol.  Oliver was promoted to lead the Highway Patrol in 2011, and Williamson was named as the deputy commander of the division where he has served since.  Marc Wright, a 35-year veteran, has been named deputy commander of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.  He has been serving in the role of major since 2012.  He has extensive experience in administration, field operations and resource management.  “This is both an exciting and bittersweet day,” SCDPS Director Leroy Smith said.  “We welcome an enthusiastic and visionary leader in Col. Williamson. But we will miss Col. Oliver who has led the Highway Patrol with strength and integrity – often through difficult seasons for law enforcement in our state and nation,” Smith said.  Williamson worked alongside Oliver during critical times such as the 1,000-year flood, Hurricane Matthew and events following the Emanuel Nine shootings.  He has been instrumental in important infrastructure and technological advances within the Highway Patrol.  Williamson, a Darlington native, joined the Highway Patrol in 1988. He was promoted to captain in Troop Seven/Orangeburg in 2003 and transferred to Troop Six/Charleston as captain in 2009.  Williamson began his career in Berkeley County and has spent his career with the patrol in the Orangeburg/Charleston region until joining headquarters in 2011.  As lieutenant colonel, Williamson managed the day-to-day operations of the Highway Patrol, which has statewide jurisdiction.  Williamson oversaw the administrative, operational and support functions of the patrol associated with enforcement and public safety.  He has also overseen traffic/specialized enforcement and safety outreach for 11 Troops.  Williamson is married to Deloris Williamson and has two daughters, Krissy and Daysha, and two granddaughters, Kristina and Kailyn.  “With this new role comes great responsibility to the citizens and visitors of this state and to the troopers and civilian personnel of the Highway Patrol,” Williamson said.  “My primary goals are to continue creative enforcement and safety education efforts to reduce highway fatalities and collisions; to work diligently to ensure our men and women are recruited, retained and compensated fairly for the dangerous and difficult job they do; and to continue to enhance our relationships with the communities we serve.”