Oliver named Patrol’s second in command

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By Jenny Arnold

A Lancaster High school graduate now leads the S.C. Highway Patrol, and now a county native has moved up to second-in-command of the state agency.

S.C. Department of Public Safety Director Mark Keel announced Thursday that Mike Oliver has been named lieutenant colonel of the Highway Patrol.

Oliver, 49, a Lancaster native, began his law enforcement career with the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office in 1980. He joined the Highway Patrol in 1982. He has spent the majority of his career in the patrol’s Troop Four, which covers York, Chester and Lancaster counties.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Oliver said of his new command.

Oliver most recently served as commander over the patrol’s communications unit in Blythewood. Oliver has a strong background in both field operations and administration, according to the Highway Patrol.

Oliver has extensive experience in the areas of technology and project management, which are both vital qualifications for the person serving second-in-command of the division, a press release said.

Oliver will be assisting Col. F.K. Lancaster Jr. in day-to-day patrol operations. He knows it will be a challenging job, with budget woes, which means a smaller number of troopers on the road.

“Obviously, we have to get through this budget crisis,” Oliver said. “This will be my first time dealing with budgeting issues " I’m new to that.”

Oliver said he is looking forward to leading the patrol into new technology, including mobile laptop computers in each patrol car.

“This will decrease our time spent in the patrol office doing reports and increase enforcement efforts and preventive measures,” Oliver said.

Oliver graduated from Lancaster High School in 1978. He got involved in law enforcement through the sheriff’s office’s explorer program in 1974. He later received an associate degree in criminal justice from University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

“I was drawn to the Highway Patrol because of traffic enforcement,” Oliver said. “I had a desire to get drunk drivers off the highways.”

Oliver and his wife, Lynn, have two children " Jessica, 22, and Matt, 19. Lynn Oliver is agent-in-charge of the local office of the S.C. Probation, Parole and Pardon services.

Other promotions

Three key personnel in the Highway Patrol’s command staff retired in February as part of an early retirement incentive offered by the S.C. Department of Public Safety, the patrol’s parent division, to help address funding shortfalls.

F.K. Lancaster Jr., a Lancaster High School graduate, was promoted from a major’s position, leaving a total of four positions to be filled in the command staff, which oversees the Highway Patrol operations throughout the state.

Lancaster said he is looking forward to getting down to business with fatality reduction plans and a focus on the reduction of DUI collisions and deaths in the state.

“South Carolina is second in the nation in DUI deaths,” Lancaster said in the release. “This is an alarming and unacceptable number to me. One of my first priorities for the new staff will be tasking them with a statewide effort to reduce these numbers and to continue a strong emphasis on increasing safety belt use.”

Another trooper with Lancaster ties, Christopher Madden, has been named major of special operations for the patrol. Madden worked as a trooper in Lancaster County during the 1990s.

Madden, a Union County native, joined the Highway Patrol in 1992. He has primarily served in various functions with the patrol’s Aggressive Criminal Enforcement Team and most recently as the commander of the ACE Unit.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151