The Buzz

August 4, 2014

SC politics: 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 Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to thebuzz@thestate.com.

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:

Tuesday, 11 a.m.: Visit Camp PALS., St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Columbia

Wednesday, 10 a.m.: Hold a ceremonial bill signing for S.1189, the S.C. Distributed Energy Resource Program Act, Half Moon Outfitters, Columbia

Friday, 9 a.m.: Address the Associated Builders and Contractors of the Carolinas annual conference, Charleston

Saturday, 9 a.m.: Participate in the “RedState Gathering,” a political rally featuring GOP politicians in Fort Worth, Texas

According to her office, Haley’s activities last week included:

8: Policy meetings

7: Economic development activities, including five calls, an unspecified meeting, and a meeting with Boeing executives in North Charleston

3 each: Meetings concerning state agencies; also, calls to politicians — the state’s congressional delegation, an unidentified legislator and to advise Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill that she would have outpatient surgery Friday; also, media activities — an availability with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson about the Savannah River Site; an availability after addressing the Atlantic Beach town council; and an appearance on the “Right Wing Dixie Chicks” radio show

2: Meetings concerning education

1 each: Attendance at an Atlantic Beach town council meeting to encourage that town to drop its association with a biker week; also, a meeting with a constituent; also, an address to a Red Cross reception at the Governor’s Mansion

Busiest day: Thursday, with 11 activities

Slowest days: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with four activities each

Of note: Haley made four economic-development calls Friday, hours after she had out-patient surgery

From Staff, Wire Reports

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