Kershaw County resident Reggie Lloyd has had an impressive -- some would say meteoric -- career run in his public life. After practicing law for a prestigious Columbia law firm, he was elected a circuit court judge, and then he became U.S. Attorney for South Carolina, the first African-American to serve in that post since Reconstruction. In 2008 he was appointed by then-Gov. Mark Sanford to head the State Law Enforcement Division.
He’s leaving that post now after only three years to return to private practice, and his tenure there has not been as smooth as some might have imagined. Longtime SLED veteran Mark Keel is taking over, and some insiders say there’s great relief among career agents at SLED. Some of that, of course, is that there has not been much turnover in the top job at SLED, with J.P. Strom and then Robert Stewart serving for decades as chief. Lloyd was the first outsider to step into that position.
Some complained that he tried to remake SLED’s role, which had traditionally been to aid and assist local departments across the state, particularly in high-profile cases in which extensive forensic work needed to be done. Critics claimed he was trying to make SLED into a crusading agency, objecting even to the fact that he wanted to be called “director” rather than “chief.”
We aren’t deep enough into SLED politics to know the ins and outs of why Lloyd’s tenure wasn’t as pacific as it could have been. Sniping began soon after he took over. At Keel’s recent swearing-in ceremony, Chief Justice Jean Toal and Stewart revealed they had strongly urged Sanford to appoint Keel three years ago. Keel received several standing ovations at the insider-dominated event.
Whether SLED simply wasn’t ready for an outsider, or whether Lloyd tried to move too quickly to change things at an entrenched institution, his tenure there was controversial. We wish him well as he returns to private practice, and we certainly wouldn’t be surprised by further public service from him at some time in the future.