At the helm

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Oliver commander of Highway Patrol

Jesef Williams
Michael Oliver says his love for law enforcement was ignited during his years as a teenager in Lancaster. Yet his most recent promotion is something he never imagined would happen.
Oliver is the new commander of the S.C. Highway Patrol. He was named to the post last month by Leroy Smith, director of the S.C. Department of Public Safety.
He succeeds Kenny Lancaster, a fellow Lancaster native who retired in November.
“I never dreamed that I would one day be the colonial,” Oliver told The Lancaster News on Wednesday. “I’m honored. I know it’s a great responsibility.”
Oliver, 52, has been with the Highway Patrol since 1982. His experience includes field operations, administration, technology and project management.
He had been the Highway Patrol’s second-in-command since 2009. He came to the agency’s headquarters in 2008 to oversee the telecommunications unit.
Smith lauded Oliver’s experience, as well as that of Capt. Chris Williamson, the Highway Patrol’s new second-in-command.
“I am proud of the depth of experience these men bring to the table,” Smith told media outlets. “They have invested their careers in the S.C. Highway Patrol and understand the needs and challenges of our troopers.”
Oliver said he’s still getting acclimated to the new position. Among his top priorities are retaining troopers and recruiting well-qualified candidates. Oliver said he wants the agency to continue making gains with DUI enforcement.
“Additional manpower will benefit both the troopers in the field by helping lessen the burden and it will make the roads safer when we can
concentrate on proactive enforcement rather than being reactive,” Oliver said.
Appreciate support
Oliver is a graduate of Lancaster High School and
the University of South Carolina Lancaster, where he earned an associate degree in criminal justice.
During his upbringing, Oliver was a Boy Scout and later became an Eagle Scout. When he was 14, he took part in an Explorer program that allowed him to ride along with a Lancaster County sheriff’s deputy.
From that moment, Oliver said he knew he wanted to work in law enforcement. After working for more than a year at the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, he joined the Highway Patrol in 1982.
Though it all, family, friends and the local community have been supportive, Oliver said.
“I appreciate the support,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of cards, calls and letters from people in the Lancaster community.”
Oliver’s wife, Lynn, is the agent in charge for Lancaster County for the Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services.
The Olivers have two children, Jessica, 24, and Matthew, 22. They attend St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lancaster.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152