Cook County Commissioners have approved funding for a new police helicopter for its sheriff’s office, according to a report from ABC7 Chicago.
$11.4 million has been allocated for the new helicopter and equipment needed for it too. The budget comes from reserves from unutilized funds of the current fiscal year and the sheriff’s office has also secured a $2.5 million federal Urban Areas Security Initiative grant.
The sheriff’s office said the funding will help ‘combat the violent crime plaguing our community, assist in large-scale emergency situations, and help locate missing people.’
Sheriff Tom Dart said: "I appreciate the County Board realizing how important of an asset this is to the Sheriff's Office and am grateful they allocated the financial resources necessary to help protect the safety and security of Cook County residents."
Currently, Chicago police and the sheriff’s office share two helicopters, but Sheriff Dart said they are often out of service.
"Helicopters are a game changer, particularly in tracking carjackers and coordinating emergency response to major incidents," Sheriff Dart said. "Having a helicopter monitor carjacking offenders from the sky increases the chances of the offender being caught. Additionally, the helicopter helps avoid potentially dangerous pursuits, which reduces the chances of innocent civilians being killed or hurt by a fleeing offender."
The final cost for leasing or purchasing the helicopter will be calculated during the process, but it is hoped that it will be operational by late summer or early autumn of 2023.