The State Senate Judiciary Committee voted 14-0 on Wednesday to send Mark Keel’s name to the full Senate for confirmation as SLED director, the state’s top law enforcement post.
The Senate will most likely vote on Keel’s confirmation next Tuesday or Wednesday, after all 46 senators have a chance to talk about any concerns with Keel, said Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, who chaired Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing.
Keel, 53, has served as director of the S.C. Department of Public Safety, which includes the S.C. Highway Patrol, since 2008.
Lawmakers said this week in interviews they give Keel high marks for a number of reforms at DPS, including prompty firing officers who committed acts of racism or excessive force.
Keel, a Barnwell native, joined SLED in 1979 and is known as a “cop’s cop” for his lifelong experience in law enforcement. At SLED, he worked in numerous line and supervisory posts, including narcotics agent, SWAT team member and chief of staff. During his SLED years, he attended and graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law.