South Carolina Highway Patrol gets first African-American 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.”
South Carolina Highway Patrol graduates 33 new troopers
The South Carolina Highway Patrol announces the graduation of 33 troopers from Highway Patrol Basic Class 92 on Friday. Gov. Nikki Haley spoke to the graduates about the sacrifices of law enforcement and the importance of character as they go out to represent their communities around the state. The governor has spoken at the last four Highway Patrol graduation ceremonies. “You have proven yourself to be able to wear this uniform but now there is something else you have to prove,” Gov. Haley told graduates. “You have brothers and sisters who have come before you and wearing that badge and wearing that uniform means something,” Haley said. “So, when you are out in the community, you have a responsibility. When you are not in uniform they still expect you to have the same integrity, the same demeanor as when you are wearing a uniform.” Basic 92 will bring the total number of troopers in South Carolina to 762. The troopers began training in January and have been trained by the Highway Patrol and Criminal Justice Academy over the past 21 weeks in all areas of law enforcement including DUI detection, traffic laws, collision investigation and the use of firearms as well as three weeks of field training. Director Leroy Smith said, “Being a public servant isn’t just what we do, it’s who we are. You have to have a passion to help one another and I know that passion resides in each and every one of you. Law enforcement is a calling. It is more than just a paycheck. It is more than just a pension. You are now in the lifesaving business. That’s what we do and we do it well.” SCHP Col. Mike Oliver said, “You have now earned the privilege to wear the grey uniform and campaign hat of a South Carolina state trooper. Your training has been long and difficult, the vocation you have taken as a public servant is likewise a difficult journey, your time away from home, however, has been to serve a greater good.”
Illinois State Police trooper killed in crash
Trooper Ryan Albin was killed yesterday in a vehicle crash on I-74, near milepost 155, in the area of Farmer City at approximately 3:10 pm. His patrol car collided with a box truck as the vehicles reduced speed for slow moving traffic in a construction zone. He was flown to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Trooper Albin's canine was transported to a veterinary hospital with minor injuries. Trooper Albin had served with the Illinois State Police for 11-1/2 years and was assigned as a canine handler in District 6.
State Police seize cache of high-power weaspons
State Police seized a cache of loaded weapons, including high-powered pistols and rifles and a sawed-off shotgun, as well as a large quantity of illegal drugs, during a traffic stop on Interstate 95 in West Greenwich last week. The driver, a North Carolina resident, was arrested on numerous weapons and drug charges. Troopers also seized ammunition, smoke grenades, assorted camouflage gear, night vision goggles and a Taser, according to Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety. The driver of the car, identified as Anthony Mondrez Thompson, 39, of Charlotte, N.C., was ordered held without bail following his arraignment Monday at Rhode Island Hospital, where he was being treated for injuries he suffered while attempting to flee from the troopers. Assumpico said the case involves one of the largest seizures of weapons during a traffic stop in recent memory. She credited the troopers who made the arrest, saying they clearly prevented these dangerous high-powered weapons from reaching the streets of Rhode Island and Southeastern New England. “These lethal weapons posed a tremendous threat to everyone living, working or vacationing in Rhode Island,” Assumpico said in a prepared statement. “We are extremely grateful to have these dangerous weapons off the streets, and we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute these and other weapons cases.” With this seizure, Rhode Island State Police have seized 78 weapons since Jan. 1, most as the result of arrests on unrelated charges. Thompson’s arrest stemmed from a traffic stop on Interstate 95 North in West Greenwich about 7:55 p.m. on Thursday. While handing over his license and car registration Thompson denied to the trooper that he had ever been convicted of a crime, and he further denied that his vehicle contained firearms or illicit drugs. During a check of Thompson’s license, registration and criminal background, the trooper determined that Mondrez had a lengthy criminal record, including multiple convictions for firearm and drug trafficking crimes. The trooper ordered Thompson to exit the vehicle, which he did. However, during further questioning by troopers, Thompson allegedly shoved one of the troopers into the roadway, where the trooper was in danger of being struck by oncoming traffic, and he took off on foot, running across the highway, toward the oncoming traffic in the high-speed lane of Interstate 95. After failing to respond to repeated commands to stop running, one of the troopers deployed a Taser, causing Thompson to fall to the pavement. Thompson was transported by rescue to Kent County Hospital and later transferred to Rhode Island Hospital, where he remains under guard. A subsequent search of Thompson’s vehicle resulted in the seizure of eight high-powered pistols, a revolver, two AR-15 assault rifles, a sawed-off shotgun, numerous high-capacity rifle and pistol magazines, boxes of ammunition, military-issued smoke grenades, holsters, camouflage gear and masks, night vision goggles and a Taser. Troopers also seized about 15 ounces of amphetamines (MDMA with the street names Molly and Ecstasy) with a street value of about $3,400.