Veteran patrolman to oversee state telecommunications unit

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By Jenny Hartley

A veteran Highway Patrolman has been promoted to oversee the state's 175 telecommunications officers.

Lancaster native Michael Oliver has been promoted from lieutenant to captain to serve as the commander of the Highway Patrol telecommunications unit, which includes the command center in Blythewood and five other centers statewide. The telecommunications centers serve as a vital link between the motoring public and the troopers.

The Highway Patrol maintains a statewide communications network staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The centers provide dispatch service to Highway Patrol troopers, State Transport police, Bureau of Protective Services officers and the S.C. Employment Security Commission.

"The telecommunications officers, they're sometimes overlooked," Oliver said. "But they're the lifeline between the trooper and the citizen."

The centers also serve as backup for the S.C. Emergency Management Division's State Warning Point to monitor emergencies from the state's nuclear facilities and hydroelectric dams, dissemination of AMBER emergency alerts, National Crime Information Systems (NCIC) bulletins and maintains radio communication with county Emergency Management Centers via mutual aid radio system.

Oliver is a 26-year veteran of the Highway Patrol, spending his entire career in Troop 4 - a seven-county region that includes Lancaster County. He served as corporal and later as sergeant in Lancaster County and was most recently assigned to Troop 4 headquarters as an enforcement lieutenant.

"In each position, Capt. Oliver has excelled, demonstrating his dedication to serving the citizens of South Carolina and supervising subordinate personnel in a fair and equitable manner," said Highway Patrol Col. Russell F. Roark. "Capt. Oliver possesses the technical experience to ensure the implementation of critical data systems and ensure a smooth transition for field personnel. His extensive field enforcement experience will help him better implement operational procedures for new technology and garner the support of field personnel."

Oliver's law enforcement career began as a cadet with the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office's Explorer program when he was 14. He worked for 18 months as a sheriff's deputy in Lancaster County before becoming a state trooper.

Oliver earned an associate's degree in criminal justice from the University of South Carolina. He is a 2007 graduate of the S.C. Executive Leadership Institute.

Oliver's wife, Lynn, is Lancaster County's agent-in-charge of the state Probation, Parole and Pardon office. The couple has a daughter, Jessica, and a son, Matt.

Oliver said he's looking forward to making the transition from enforcement to communications and computers for the Highway Patrol. He said the patrol wanted to move the communication center under one command for uniformity and to implement new programs more efficiently.

One of those new programs will put computer terminals in each trooper's cruiser. This will equip the trooper with GPS (global positioning system) tracking, making it easier for other troopers and dispatchers to find a trooper on a traffic stop, for example. The system will map calls for assistance and help troopers respond to incidents more efficiently, Oliver said.

There were early talks about Oliver entering the race for Lancaster County sheriff this year. But that's not possible now, with his recent promotion.

"I had been approached about it," Oliver said Wednesday. "I prayed on it and I seriously considered it, but this opportunity came up and I took it."

Contact Jenny Hartley at 283-1151 or jhartley@thelancasternews.com