Howard County, Md. police recently took delivery of a new Bell Helicopter 407.
The agency began flying in 1999, borrowing two Bell OH-58s from neighboring Anne Arundel County police as needed. (Howard County provided crews and covered the operating costs.) The arrival of the agency’s first wholly-owned aircraft marks the county’s autonomy as the newest of only four of Maryland’s 23 counties with police aviation assets. (The Maryland State Police Natural Resources Dept. and the city of Baltimore also have police aircraft.)
"It’s been a long time coming," said Capt. John McKissick, commander of Howard County’s special operations bureau. "And it’s already paying dividends." The 407 is equipped with a front-programmable Wulfsberg P-2000 transceiver, Northern Airborne Technology audio panel, Garmin 530/420 GPS suite with TCAS and Next Generation Weather Radar (Nexrad), Aero Computers mapping system, L-3 Wescam thermal imager with a laser designator slaved to a Spectrolab SX-16 searchlight, Troll Systems digital microwave downlink system, and Avalex 8100 series digital video recorder.
"We really had an excellent team putting this together," said McKissick of Cpls. Mark Thomey and Perry Thorsvik, the unit’s pilots. "We are thrilled to have state-of-the-art technology. We couldn’t be happier."
Howard County is in central Maryland, between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. The department’s 400 officers patrol 250 sq mi and serve a population of 275,000 residents. The aircraft is based at Tipton Airport (FME). — Ernie Stephens