COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster wants the man he appointed temporarily to take over the state’s Department of Public Safety to become its permanent leader.

McMaster announced his decision Wednesday to name Robert Woods IV as the director of the law enforcement agency that oversees state troopers and Statehouse safety.

The appointment must be approved by the state Senate when lawmakers return for the 2021 session in January.

McMaster named Woods interim director in February after his first choice for the job, North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess withdrew. Burgess had blamed the toll on his family after the public learned about his tax debts at a confirmation hearing.


Woods has worked for the agency for 29 years, rising to a major overseeing the Highway Patrol’s administration before being tapped as interim director.

Woods also managed the Highway Patrol’s hurricane response when current State Law Enforcement Director Mark Keel ran the Department of Public Safety and Keel came to Woods’ news conference to vouch for his former colleague.

“One thing you are going to find out about Rob Woods is that he is respected. He is a very intelligent person. He has honesty and integrity that is above reproach,” Keel said. “He will support the men and women of the Department of Public Safety, but he will also hold them accountable.”

Woods promised to improve pay and working condition for troopers. Lawmakers said troopers frequently complained under previous directors of preferential treatment and low salaries compared to other law enforcement agencies.

“With responding to Hurricane Hugo to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, I have witnessed the spirit of selfless service that truly defines those who serve South Carolina,” he said.

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