SC chief says delay in trooper response time could be on the horizon

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina Public Safety Department director Mark Keel says people may notice a slowdown in trooper response time to highway incidents as continuing budget cuts are thinning the ranks.

      Keel told The State of Columbia that there are 163 fewer troopers patrolling South Carolina's rural highways and interstates than in 2008 and there is no money to replace them.

      Some small rural counties may have to share a single trooper per shift and larger counties may have just three troopers patrolling the interstates and highways at night.

      Last year, the average response time for the Highway Patrol was 30 minutes. Keel says he expects that will show an increase for this year and could get worse.

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