Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS: SLED to Cease Conducting Background Checks on Fire Service Personnel

I received some disturbing information from the South Carolina Firefighters' Association today and am asking for your help on a critical issue affecting everyone in South Carolina.

Since 2001, the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has performed background checks for fire service personnel in our state.

Historically, SLED performed these checks and billed the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation's (LLR) Division of State Fire Marshal for this service.

The Fire Marshal's office funded this service through its normal budgeting process, and the system works well.

SLED Director Reggie Lloyd recently decided that he will no longer invoice LLR for background checks as SLED did for 8 years and is now mandating that fire departments requesting background checks pay for the service themselves upon making the request.

Officials with the South Carolina Firefighters' Association and LLR staff conducted numerous discussions with Chief Lloyd, and discussions are now at an impasse with no help to South Carolina's fire service.

Without your action, beginning tomorrow, July 1, you and the fire department that serves you will pay for background checks on newly-hired personnel.

Chief Lloyd stated that LLR could and should do the background checks instead of SLED, but as South Carolina's chief law enforcement agency, it’s SLED that’s budgeted through the state to perform this function, and the agency has the investigative processes already in place.

If LLR is assigned responsibility of fire fighter background checks, existing state funds should be reallocated to LLR to assume the new task. Currently, SLED is not planning for any budget cuts, and LLR does not expect receive reallocated monies to fund the mandate.

The bottom line is that the system is not broken. It worked well when the program began in 2001, and it works well now. It also helps assure South Carolinians and its visitors of the professional nature of the fire service.

LLR still maintains funds available to pay for this service, so no additional tax dollars are needed. The program could continue as it has in the past, but Chief Lloyd opted for another path.

Please contact your legislators and express your dissatisfaction and concern with Chief Lloyd's change and how it could impact your fire department.

This is not a request for additional funds. We simply want to have SLED continue the checks as has been done for 8 years with billing handled through LLR. Again, we aren't asking for any new funds.

When you contact your legislators, please let me know (taft@taftmatney.com).

Just a brief note, if you choose to e-mail your legislators, make sure to type "Constituent" in the subject line. If you don't know who your legislators are or how to contact them, go to
http://tinyurl.com/bkdg9f and enter your ZIP code. It's that easy.

Thank you, and please take time to contact your legislators today.




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