Rockford: Emergency helicopter coalition relinquishing birds

  • Source: Freeport Journal-Standard
  • Published: 08/08/2018 03:14 AM

Starved for funding, an agency that for 15 years provided air support for a coalition of law enforcement agencies across northern Illinois is all but defunct and relinquishing its fleet of helicopters. A half dozen of the helicopters once operated by Air-One — a public body that provided air support free of charge to law enforcement agencies from the Chicago suburbs to Rockford, Winnebago County, Freeport and Stephenson County in cases of natural disaster, fires, search-and-rescues and manhunts — are parked outside the Stephenson County Jail in Freeport. The surplus military helicopters allocated by the federal Law Enforcement Support Office are “enormously expensive” to operate, costing as much as $3,500 every hour they are in the air, said Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea, who serves as president of the Air-One board of directors. The helicopters are parked and waiting to be transferred by the federal government to new agencies that can afford to operate them, O’Shea said.


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