SMC Grad Measures Success in Lack of Attention
By Kelly Ferguson
This article appeared originally in the fall 2021 issue of Frontiers Magazine.
For many, they know they have succeeded when their work is praised and recognized. For Colonel Dean Dill ‘93, it’s the opposite. When his work is done right, no one notices he and his team are there.
“The mission is clear. The goal is simple: zero large truck and bus collisions for South Carolina,” said Dill of his mission as the Commander of the South Carolina State Transport Police (STP).
After graduating from Spartanburg Methodist College in 1993 with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice, Dill has worked his way to the top of one of the agencies responsible for keeping South Carolina’s roads safe, specifically by preventing accidents, maintaining safe conditions, regulating commercial drivers, and protecting the environment from hazardous materials.
Dill was among the first hires for this new public safety agency, which was established in 1993. He is now one of the original three left in the program, developed by the Department of Public Safety and Public Services, focused on safety and enforcement for commercial vehicles on South Carolina’s roads.
Dill realized early on that he wanted to work in law enforcement. He wanted to make a difference and have a career that he believed in. An Inman native, Dill was familiar with SMC and knew that it had a good criminal justice program.
“I grew up in Inman but spent a great deal of my childhood at my grandmother’s house very near the College. It was a beautiful campus that we would sometimes ride bicycles through,” Dill said. “As I became interested in going into a career in law enforcement, I was pleased to learn that SMC had a great criminal justice program.
” Dill explained that in high school he didn’t do much studying, but once he arrived at Spartanburg Methodist College, he learned how to apply himself. He praised the faculty and staff for helping point him in the right direction.
“The instructors at the College were great and accessible. One of my instructors and my advisor, Mr. Everhart, helped me navigate college and was a wealth of knowledge regarding criminal justice and law enforcement careers,” Dill said.
He made the Dean’s List every semester. These skills learned in college translated well into his time at the police academy. The coursework to become an officer is not only tactical, but academic as well. A trainee must pass a wide range of courses and certifications in order to qualify.
It wasn’t long after completing his police training and his associate degree that Dill was hired by the State Transport Police. Starting in November 1994, he learned the ways of managing the state roads. A day in the life of a transport officer involves patrolling the roads, traffic enforcement on commercial vehicles, stopping vehicles for traffic and equipment violations, safety inspections, running weigh stations, and proactive enforcement.
Since Dill has been part of the program since it started, he’s seen a lot of advancements. They started out handwriting all of their reports but now put them straight into a computer system. This update allows officers to share documents online. A mobile dispatch has also
improved their work by being able to access and locate active officers on the system’s map. They can see real time data of where crashes and problems are occurring, which improves the efficacy of the department. They put more people where the problems are to reduce them, to achieve the goal of driver safety on the roads.
Today, as the commander of the entire department, his main goal remains the same – maintaining the safety of South Carolina drivers by striving to prevent collisions and fatalities.
Separate from the Highway Patrol, Dill said that out of around 11,000regular police officers in the state, there are only 100 in his department who do what they do. Specifically, they deal with educating commercial and hazardous material drivers on the ever-changing federal safety regulations.
Dill especially likes this part of his job, that he is constantly having to learn. The required federal certification courses, which involve commercial driver requirements, vehicle equipment standards, and hazardous material regulations, are academically challenging and change often. “It’s an important and rewarding job,” Dill said.
To students interested in following Dill’s path, he advises that they be open to new challenges and face them.
“You’re never going to grow from staying in your comfort zone,” he said. He also emphasizes that it is important for people going into law enforcement to really want to do it. “If you want to get involved for the right reasons, help people and treat them right, then follow your heart.”
Dill cares deeply about his job and ensuring that he is making a difference. His long time coworker, Major Dwayne D. Wilson,
who has worked alongside Dill since 1994, spoke on Dill’s recent promotion.
“He is always professional and always a pleasure to work with,” Maj. Wilson said. “In his new position as the commander, Dill leads by example. He’s very approachable, has an open door policy, is very knowledgeable, and an all-around great leader.
”For someone whose success is noted by not being noticed, Col. Dean Dill has certainly made a career of being noticed by his colleagues.