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Brunswick County Sheriff's Office flying high

READ MORE: Brunswick County Sheriff's Office flying high
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The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office has a new addition to its force. Brunswick Air One made its debut appearance Tuesday afternoon at the Brunswick County Government Complex in Bolivia. The four-seat chopper will be used to locate missing people and suspects, search and rescue, drug investigations, and for assessments during evacuations and natural disasters. Operating Brunswick Air One costs $200 an hour, but that money won't be coming from taxpayers. "The important thing we want to get out to the public, is we were given the helicopter, completely free, and no tax dollars will be used to support this program at all. It will funded solely from drug seizure money,” stated Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram. Brunswick County law enforcement and emergency services plan to use Brunswick Air One to assist all agencies in Brunswick County and the surrounding counties if they need assistance as well. "We have not had this kind of resource available to us and we have not had this type of partnership in the past, so this is something we're really looking forward to; it's something that I think is going to be very beneficial to all the citizens of Brunswick County and to the emergency services office,” said Brunswick County EMS Director Randy Thompson. Sheriff Ingram said he plans to apply for a grant to install an infrared system on the chopper in the near future.

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Concerns about the Brunswick Helicopter

The reality is the helicopter will be a great asset and was provided at no cost to the taxpayers. It is a surplus military helicopter donated by the state. Funds for maintenance and operation come from Federal drug money (money seized from drug raids, not necessarily from our area) and such funds are mandated to be used for equipment, such as vehicles and including aircraft. Even the pilot was already on staff with the Sheriff's Department as a uniformed officer. (It just happened to be we had a deputy who flew helicopters in the military and is licensed to fly this type of helicopter, so the county won't have to hire a pilot. They can use existing personnel.) SABLE is a program operated out of New Hanover County and this resource has been a higher cost per hour rate than having this helicopter. For Brunswick's helicopter, parts have (and will be) provided in many cases at little or no cost as many of the major parts will come from the military, National Guard, etc. Other counties in North Carolina have similar helicopters and the annual cost has been reviewed by Brunswick County and shown to be lower than using SABLE. This helicopter was previously owned by another N.C. county and was transferred to Brunswick. Bladen County has a similar helicopter and their operational and maintenance costs were reviewed for approximately a year before making the decision to acquire this one. Federal grant money is available (meaning it will go to some county or agency somewhere regardless if one agrees with the aspect of grants or not) to purchase equipment such as forward looking infrared (FLIR) and some additional items which may be acquired at some point. School funding is not even remotely associated with the funding of the Sheriff's department as Brunswick County allocates this money separately. To assert it will adversely impact schools is a statement based upon not knowing how the schools or the budget works. As stated above, operational costs will come from Federal drug seizure funding which the county has already acquired which is mandated to go to equipment. Generally most counties get this type of funding and it is the discretion of the Sheriff's department as to how these monies should be used. Brunswick County has over 1000 square miles, over 850 square miles of land, 19 municipalities making it the most of any county in the state, hundreds of communities, the second fastest growing county in the state and the 17th fastest growing in the country. We have vast unincorporated and undeveloped areas in the form of natural wildlife habitats constituted by swamps, rivers, sounds, and other areas which make search and rescue efforts difficult due to the terrain and limited access. In addition the crime situation is rising, with gang and drug activity a concern. If one goes beyond the news stories, talk with those involved, understand the issues, consider the options, look at the funding, review the budgets, and then make a decision you might have a better idea why Brunswick County decided to get a helicopter. As a citizen, I think it was a good idea. They took considerable effort to weigh the cost vs. benefit, they did their homework and they're using funding which won't adversely impact any of our citizens. This was no snap decision, no fad or new toy, but an asset to make our homes, businesses and families safer. I applaud the Sheriff and others for making this a reality.

The only sad part....

...is that we can't equip it with Hellfire missiles to stop high-speed pursuits immediately.

Brunswick Co. Helicopter

Who gave the helicopter to Brunswick Co. ?

Santa

I believe his true identity is Kris Kringle.