The Harford County Sheriff’s Office will take to the skies with the formation of an aviation unit, the agency confirmed this week.
Details of the unit, including whether an airplane or helicopter had already been purchased and at what cost, remained unclear. The Sheriff’s Office declined to release further details ahead of an upcoming press conference to officially announce the aviation unit’s creation.
“For some time now, members of the Sheriff’s Office have been working to create an aviation unit for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Edward Hopkins wrote in an e-mail to The Dagger. “In several weeks, there will be a press conference to announce the formation of this aviation unit. There are no further details that I am able to release at this time. To be certain everyone has all the information at the same time, and so that it is not being addressed piecemeal we will schedule a news conference in the upcoming weeks.”
A source told The Dagger that a helicopter with a JT15D motor has already been purchased at a low cost from a government agency, but could not speak to expected operational costs such as fuel, pilot training, storage, or insurance.
The Maryland State Police Aviation Command will continue to provide medevac services and other support as needed, spokesman Greg Shipley said.
“We work very diligently to support local law enforcement whenever needed,” he said.
The state police command is currently transitioning to operate a new type of helicopter, the AugustaWestland AW 139; the agency will eventually have 10 such units operating in seven locations around the state. The Aviation Command’s $28.4 million 2013 budget also provides for approximately 150 staff including maintainence and administrative personnel, Shipley said, and is drawn largely from the state’s Emergency Medical System Operations Fund, which levies a $22 surcharge every two years on registrations for certain classes of vehicles.