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      SLED seeking permission to buy helicopter

      By SEANNA ADCOX-- Associated Press

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's law enforcement agency is seeking permission to buy a new two-passenger helicopter that can assist state and local investigations.

      The State Law Enforcement Division will ask approval Monday from the Joint Bond Review Committee to spend the estimated $3.5 million. It wants to use money confiscated during investigations and fees collected for criminal record searches.

      The agency considers a new helicopter a budget priority. 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. Two existing two-passenger helicopters were built in 1987 and 1989 and frequently need repair. And its Vietnam-era helicopter is out of service and must be returned to the federal government for lack of parts.

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