SLED Computer Crash Not Caused by Lightning

August 27, 2013

A group of defense lawyers wants an independent panel of scientists, defense lawyers and others in the judicial community to investigate a power outage that caused a computer crash at the State Law Enforcement Division.

The South Carolina servers which contain all the data on drunken driving arrests crashed on July 5. It took more than a month to restore the data.

SLED initially thought the damage was caused by a lightning strike, but Chief Mark Keel told The Post and Courier of Charleston that further investigation showed it was a problem with the agency’s electrical system and SLED is spending up to $250,000 to fix it.

Keel added that the problem had nothing to do with hacking. Instead, he blames a piece of equipment called a rectifier. Two of them burned out, and then the system crashed when it was switched to generator power, the chief said.

The call for an independent investigation came from the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Charleston attorney Tim Kulp said he became suspicious of the lightning strike explanation and pulled weather records that showed no strikes within 3 miles of SLED’s Columbia headquarters on the day the server went down.

“The truth of the matter is that SLED’s deception concerning the cause of this data problem with their DUI system is incredibly troubling when one considers the mystery that surrounds SLED’s DUI system when it is working ‘correctly,”‘ the association said in a statement.

SLED spokesman Thom Berry said Friday that his agency wouldn’t talk about the statement.

The defense lawyers want legislators and Gov. Nikki Haley to investigate if SLED refuses to conduct an independent investigation.

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