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      SLED seeking $500K to expand child fatality unit

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The State Law Enforcement Division is asking lawmakers for about $500,000 to hire more officers to investigate the suspicious deaths of children.

      The State newspaper reports that SLED wants to add four officers to its child fatality unit in an effort to reduce a backlog of 466 cases. The oldest is from 1999.

      By law, the unit must investigate when a child dies under suspicious circumstances. Coroners refer nearly 200 cases a year to the unit that currently has eight officers.

      Laura Hudson is a member of the state Child Fatality Advisory Committee. She says about 15 percent of cases are classified as homicides.

      SLED Chief Mark Keel says a case can sit for months before an officer can investigate, which lessens the chance it will be solved.

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      Information from: The State, http://www.thestate.com

      Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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