Under pressure from Gov. Mark Sanford, the director and deputy director of the state Department of Public Safety resigned Friday.
Public Safety Director James K. Schweitzer and Highway Patrol Col. Russell Roark resigned after tapes surfaced showing officers using racial slurs against black motorists. The Legislative Black Caucus complained to the governor on Thursday after learning that the troopers involved in three incidents captured on video were punished with only 12-hour suspensions.
The governor suggested that Schweitzer and Roark would have been fired if they had not resigned.
"This racial epithet is absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances -- period," Sanford said Friday afternoon. "I want to be absolutely clear that this in no way reflects on the utmost respect we have for the dedication and professionalism of the hundreds of men and women in uniform at the Patrol. When someone disregards that standard - or worse yet, exhibits behavior that is absolutely intolerable no matter the situation - we expect the leaders we've appointed to take swift and meaningful steps to correct it. When that doesn't happen, the buck ultimately stops with me to make sure that going forward, we are sending a clear and unequivocal signal that unacceptable behavior won't be tolerated."
The Legislative Black Caucus praised Sanford for his quick action and said they are hopeful his picks to replace the men will signal a change in the ranks of Public Safety. Caucus members said Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell and Sen. Robert Ford were instrumental in forcing action on the issue.
"This sends a message to the rest of the country that South Carolina isn't going to tolerate this kind of behavior," said state Rep. Leon Howard, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Read the full story in Saturday's Post and Courier.