SLED gets OK to buy helicopter
South Carolina’s law enforcement agency is asking permission to buy a new two-passenger helicopter that can assist with state and local investigations.
The State Law Enforcement Division received approval Monday from the Joint Bond Review Committee to spend an estimated $3.5 million for the helicopter. SLED wants to use money confiscated during investigations and fees collected for criminal record searches.
It could receive final approval next week from the Budget and Control Board.
The two board approvals are largely a technicality. State law requires it for any state aircraft purchase.
Legislators already have given SLED authority to spend the money on a helicopter – $1.2 million from confiscated cash and $2.3 million from search fees – as part of the 2014-15 state budget, which took effect July 1.
The agency listed a new helicopter among its budget priorities for 2014-15. Officials say the purchase would ensure that two helicopters remain available for use.
SLED currently has four helicopters.
Its large, 10-passenger helicopter is used for transport missions. It is “not configured or cost-effective for everyday use,” the agency said in a July 21 memo.
A 1968 military surplus helicopter, which flew in the Vietnam War, is out of service for lack of parts.
Two other two-passenger helicopters are used on a daily basis, but were built in 1987 and 1989 and frequently need repairs. SLED plans to buy the same model, to save money in parts and pilot training.
The agency employs five full-time pilots, two full-time employees who are both pilots and mechanics, and four part-time pilots, the memo says.
SLED officials previously have said its helicopters frequently are used to help find suspects or missing adults. Other uses include helping the Forestry Commission suppress fires, aerial surveying for the Department of Natural Resources, and accident reconstruction and hurricane evacuation for the Highway Patrol.
Governor’s schedule, activities
Gov. Nikki Haley’s publicly announced schedule for this week, released by her staff, is:
According to her office, Haley’s activities last week included:
From Staff, Wire Reports