Sanford chooses Reggie Lloyd for experience, character

COLUMBIA — A former judge and the current U.S. attorney for South Carolina on Friday was nominated by Gov. Mark Sanford to lead the State Law Enforcement Division.

Reggie Lloyd, 40, would become the first black to hold the post. His appointment must be confirmed by the state Senate.

"If you have proven experience, if you have demonstrated character, all those prerequisites, and you have a chance to put an African-American in a spot where historically none has walked, it's important to lift that glass ceiling," Sanford said.

The governor decided late Thursday to pick Lloyd, who has no previous law enforcement experience, over Maj. Mark Keel, an agency veteran who has served as interim chief since Robert Stewart announced his retirement in November.

Lloyd said his experience working with federal agencies as U.S. attorney would serve him well as SLED chief.

"In this role even, if you see what happened after 9/11, the intersection of the state and federal system, it's something that we deal with every day," he said.

Lloyd was nominated as U.S. attorney by President Bush in December 2005 after being recommended by Sen. Lindsey Graham. He was the first black since Reconstruction to hold that position in South Carolina.

"With both Senator Graham and the governor, I applaud both of them for being conscious about diversity issues in this state," Lloyd said. "Their focus is obviously first and foremost, as it should be, on experience and philosophy and intent and what you can do to serve the public. Race really wasn't an issue in that regard."

Lloyd hopes for a smooth transition to an agency that has been headed by only two people in the past 50 years. He anticipates some law enforcement training but envisions a more hands-off approach than Stewart, who was known for wearing camouflage and a bulletproof vest during manhunts.

"I'm probably more prone to suits and ties than fatigues," Lloyd said. "My expectations will be a director of SLED, not chief of police."

Graham called Lloyd "a wonderful choice" to succeed Stewart. "He has the legal background, character, experience, and record of achievement to serve in this important position," the Republican senator said in a statement.

Graham said he would work with Sen. Jim DeMint to find Lloyd's replacement.

Lloyd's U.S. attorney stint was to expire at the end of Bush's term in office.

"I'm still in love with public service," he said of the new position. "I thought about it and prayed about it, and I thought it'd be a great way to continue to service South Carolina."

After graduating from law school at the University of South Carolina in 1993, Lloyd worked on business litigation at the Columbia firm Nexsen Pruet Adams and Kleemeier before joining then-Attorney General Charlie Condon's staff.

From 1998 to 2000, he worked as research director and chief counsel to the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee, when he was involved in defending the state's redistricting plan against charges that it was illegally drawn along racial lines.

He was elected to the circuit court bench in 2003, where he served until Bush nominated him U.S. attorney.

Lloyd would replace longtime SLED chief Stewart, who announced his retirement in November after leading the agency for 20 years. He has said he plans to start a consulting business.

During Stewart's tenure, SLED created an automated fingerprint information system, a state DNA database and a computer crime center.

By law, the SLED chief also heads up the state's homeland security efforts.