COLUMBIA— The State Law Enforcement Division is asking lawmakers for money to hire 65 more agents.
If lawmakers approve the request, it would give the state police agency slightly more than the 380 agents it had before the Great Recession, The State newspaper reported.
SLED director Mark Keel made his request for a $15 million increase to a House subcommittee Wednesday.
SLED also wants permission to spend about $3.5 million it already has for a new helicopter to replace a 1968 model. SLED has four helicopters.
Keel says about 30 of the new agents would work in alcohol enforcement, making sure businesses have the proper licenses and close on time and check for underage drinking. Only about a dozen agents now work in alcohol enforcement, monitoring about 16,000 businesses.
It also wants eight forensic scientists and four agents to work on the state’s methamphetamine problem. Keel said the state already has spent more this year on disposing of meth labs than all of last year.
The agency also is seeking more than $2 million for new vehicles and more than $2 million on new computers and software to fight cybercrime, including keeping hackers from getting into SLED’s systems.