Sep 19, 2012 7:06 PM by Ian Cross
TUCSON - On Monday, the Pima County Sheriff's Department will unveil its latest crime-fighting and life-saving tool: a $3.8 million American Eurocopter helicopter.
As the county's first rescue-capable helicopter, the AS350B3e helicopter will be used to complete search-and-rescue operations and to help extinguish fires, sheriff's officials stated in a news release. Previously, PCSD had to rely on Arizona Department of Public Safety or military helicopters.
This model is typically used for high-performance missions in hot conditions and high altitudes, and will allow Pima County to respond to threats along the border, as well as rescue hikers off Mount Lemon, or those suffering from heat exposure in the desert.
The new helicopter replaces the helicopter that crashed in 2001, killing pilot Loren Leonburger and injuring three others. This new helicopter is not the same model as the one that crashed last year.
No general funds were used for the purchase - instead, Pima County used three funding sources: an insurance settlement from the crash, federal grant funding for urban areas with potential terrorism threats, and approximately $1 million in seized racketeering funds.
The Pima County Sheriff's Office's Air Unit currently has four aircraft: a single-engine and a twin-engine Cessna used for prisoner extradition, and two Vietnam-era, fixed-wing Helio-Courier aircraft used in patrol operations.
Tune in to News 4 Tucson on Monday for a full report and video of this new helicopter.