SLED workforce in growth spurt after years of cuts

By SEANNA ADCOXAssociated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- This year will bring the fastest ramp-up ever to the workforce of South Carolina's law enforcement agency.

Following several years of deep spending cuts, the state budget that took effect in July calls for the State Law Enforcement Division to hire nearly 90 people.

SLED Chief Mark Keel says his agency has never before tried to hire that many in a single year, though he's grateful for the boost. He hopes to have all the positions filled by early 2013.

The 2012-13 budget allows Keel to hire 49 agents, eight forensic scientists for the DNA lab, a dozen people each to manage its computers and criminal records database, and seven assistants.

Still, the hires won't bring the agency to its pre-recession levels.