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Omaha Police granted new helicopter

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:26 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Omaha City Council has approved the purchase of a new helicopter to be added to the Omaha Police Department.

The OPD air support unit has three helicopters but similar to all equipment, helicopters wear down too. The $3 million, crime-fighting helicopter is deemed a “necessary expense” by city council members.

“That third helicopter is definitely necessary,” said Councilman Vinny Palermo.

“We know that there’s procedures and protocols that you can’t always fly the newest helicopter. So when you’re working on one, one has to be at the ready, and the third one we do have is aging out. It won’t be long before its not in our fleet of helicopters, so it’s important as we look forward for the public safety of the citizens of Omaha that we provide that third helicopter.”

Councilwoman Juanita Johnson also added her support, “Based on my relationship with Chief Schmaderer, I think he shoots straight from the hip, and the way he presented his argument to me today, I didn’t see any room for error or concern.”

The prospected helicopter, a Bell 505, will be outfitted with a camera, mapping system, and spotlight alongside thermal imaging equipment. Included in the purchase price - training for pilots and ground support personnel.

Funding will come from the City’s Capital Improvement Fund, it will take a few months for the purchase to be completed. By contract, the city has to pay around half a million dollars within 10 days of signing the contract. Payment for the rest of the helicopter will be made over the next 15 years.

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