Sheriff’s Copter Unit May Be Model For Region
With four helicopters, the King County Sheriff’s Office boasts the largest helicopter unit in Washington state. Two of the choppers are “observation helicopters” dubbed Guardian One. These craft are equipped with Forward Looking Infra Red technology that can detect body heat from the ground, a zoom camera with auto focus, GPS mapping, a digital video recorder, and a “night sun” spotlight, as well as an onboard computer system.
Typically, the sheriff’s office allowed other agencies to use the helicopters at a cost of $595 an hour for the chopper and crew, not counting overtime if needed. Thus, other agencies only asked to use them in extreme situations.
Now, due to a budget windfall and possible contracts with federal agencies, the office will offer use of the helicopters free of charge in emergency situations and for $431 per hour in other cases.
The Puget Sound Regional Aviation Project, comprised of regional and federal agencies, is looking into ways to further pool area aircraft.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Seattle Times (07/03/05) P. B4; Green, Sara J.