The Suffolk County Police Department in New York took delivery of a Eurocopter EC 145 yesterday in a brief handover ceremony here at Heli-Expo 2007. The EC 145 will supplement two Eurocopter AS 350B2 AStars the department now operates, as well as one MD 900. (The SCPD is trading in another MD 900 to Eurocopter as part of its purchase of the new EC 145.)
The twin-turbine helicopter is equipped with a Wescam infrared camera, Spectrolab SX16 searchlight and hoist and rappel bars. It will be based at SCPD’s facility at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, near the offices of the department’s SWAT crews, who will use the helicopter.
In addition to police work, the EC 145 will fly medevacs for the 1,000-sq-mi county on Long Island, east of Manhattan. According to Sgt. Brian Barrett, commander of the SCPD’s aviation section, the department flies almost 600 medevacs per year. It does this mission because there are no civil EMS operators in the county, only one level-A trauma center and often heavy ground traffic. “It’s a service we provide for the citizens of Suffolk County,” he said. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard considers the department’s helicopters as part of its assets when there’s a need, for example, for search and rescue a few miles off the coast of Long Island.
Last year, the department flew about 500 hours, Barrett said, and with the EC 145, he expects it will fly some 600 hours this year. He said the department paid $7.5 million for its new EC 145, not including the trade-in.
Formed in 1971 after several small municipal police departments in the county were consolidated in 1960 into a single county-wide police department, the air section started with a single Alouette and has also flown Bell 206s. It acquired its first AStar in 1981 and has operated only civil helicopters since its inception.