Seattle, Washington, is located in King County. It's the most populous county in the state. Cerritos, California, is located in Los Angeles County. It's the most populous county in the country. When examining their budgets, both King County and Cerritos found that cuts needed to be made. One area in danger of losing funding in each of those budgets was the aerial police force.
The Seattle Times said that an earlier King County budget proposed cutting the Sheriff's Office's helicopter and marine units, saving some $1.4 million. According to King County’s website, the air support unit operates one Bell Helicopter 206B3, one Bell 407 and one Bell UH-1H. However, after a unanimous vote Monday, the Metropolitan King County Council approved a later version of the budget. With the $11.4 billion plan, the county said it will be able to restore funding to both units.
A different conclusion arose in Cerritos after the City Council voted to cut its helicopter law enforcement program. Nearby Lakewood, California, was the first city in the U.S. to provide helicopter patrols day and night with its Sky Knight program, according to the city’s website. Eventually, four other cities contracted into the program, splitting the costs. Cerritos was one of them. Three of the four no longer use the service.
Cerritos will be the fourth to discontinue. At a city council meeting on Oct. 27, the city’s communication division said the council voted to discontinue its participation in Sky Knight by a vote of 3 to 2. There is no effective date, as details within the contract will need to be sorted out. But the city expects discontinuation next year.
At least one Schweizer 269C is registered to the City of Lakewood for its Sky Knight program. Photo courtesy of Alf van Beem