FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. - It's an exciting day for the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. For the first time in 20 years the department has a new helicopter.
It's the first MD530F helicopter built completely in the United States and it now belongs to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Margaret Mims said it brings public safety to a whole new level.
Overhead surveillance. An eye in the sky
Fresno County Sheriff's Margret Mims introduced the new MD530F helicopter to their air support fleet.
"There's deputy sheriffs on board if they need to land and answer a call for service they can do that even before ground units arrive," she said.
Sheriff Mims said the $3.6 million dollar aircraft is highly anticipated after being approved by the County Board of Supervisors in 2015. It's funded by money seized from criminal suspects' illegal possessions and unspent money in the budget.
"Basically drug traffickers purchased a majority of this helicopter," said Mims.
The helicopter can go up to 140 miles per hour and operate at 16,000 feet in altitude. No more manual gauges, fully computerized, and equipped with a bigger motor, longer blades, and a new HD camera.
Deputy Sheriff Pilot Johnny Reyes said this elevates accuracy when patrolling,
"When we are overhead we can give those 360 degree views of what's happening that you can't see," he said.
The Fresno County Sheriff's Office is looking to sell one or both of their old helicopters to get a second new updated model like.