By Staff Writer | November 1, 2008
The Pima County Sheriffs Dept (PCSD) in southern Arizona has had a small aviation unit for years, but just received its first helicopter in September 2008. They purchased a used MD Helicopters MD-530 to add to its fleet of two Helio Courier airplanes, which deputies use as surveillance platforms above its county of 352,000 residents. The airplanes, however, were not deemed adequate for all of the agency’s current needs.
"We’re answering a lot more calls now," said Sgt Rick Pearson of PCSD and one of its pilots. "There’s a need for a helicopter to patrol our border with Mexico and to insert deputies in tight places."
Pearson said the light single-engine turbine will occasionally be used for routine patrols and to help the department’s 516 deputies answer calls for service. But at the moment, the helicopter has no law enforcement equipment. The department will, however, be installing the same radios, FLIR 8500 and Aerocomputers moving map gear the airplanes use.
The PCSD is not in a hurry to complete the installation of police mission equipment though. All of their aviators are fixed-wing, so the agency’s priority is to hire rotorcraft pilots to operate the new helicopter.