COLUMBIA — The State Law Enforcement Division needs an extra $6 million to make sure officers across South Carolina can continue to access federal crime databases, SLED Chief Mark Keel said.
Keel spoke to lawmakers Thursday, telling them the FBI sanctioned his agency for not properly monitoring criminal records shared between states, according to The State newspaper.
It is the first step toward the FBI revoking South Carolina’s access to its criminal records files, which officers use to see if suspects are wanted in other states, Keel said.
The agency could get back in the FBI’s good graces by spending $6 million extra in the next budget year for new computer equipment and additional people in the agency’s technology department, Keel said.
“We’ve basically been spanked,” Keel said. “We’ve been told to get our house in order.”
SLED is supposed to audit every local law enforcement agency to make sure it uses the federal crime database properly. Those audits stopped in 2007 under Keel’s predecessor as the agency had most of its technology work done by outside companies. The FBI sanctioned SLED last week, but also commended the agency for taking steps to resume the audits.
Overall, SLED is asking for $31.5 million for the next budget year, an increase of 35 percent over last year, but still less than the agency’s 2008 budget. SLED also wants nearly $9 million in one-time money to buy new equipment.
The three lawmakers listening to Keel seemed receptive to his request. Rep. Michael Pitts, R-Laurens, and a former Greenville police officer said what Keel is asking for makes sense.
“I understand how vital that information is, especially to a street officer at 2 o’clock in the morning when that may be his only link to survival,” Pitts said.