Ed: Background to this press release is that Queensland has recently gone through elections, and the incoming administration have fulfilled a manifesto pledge by taking this action
Police Minister Jack Dempsey has secured South East Queensland’s police helicopter.
The Gold Coast-based police helicopter, which was originally funded by the Gold Coast City Council, will now be funded by the State Government and available for work throughout south-east Queensland.
Mr Dempsey said the commitment by the LNP Government ends years of frustration expressed by police officers and the south-east Queensland community who have been calling for the aircraft.
“Today’s announcement ends the trial of a police helicopter and firmly cements a rotary air wing as a necessary and permanent resource for the Queensland Police Service,” Mr Dempsey said.
“Extending this lease contract has always been a priority of the LNP Government and is in line with our 30-day commitment to the community to secure the aircraft.
“From here we will now work toward our $18 million commitment bringing two police helicopters online for South East Queensland by 2014/15.”
Mr Dempsey said the chopper had proved its value towards policing with the aircraft already spending hundreds of hours assisting officers’ operational duties.
“Since its launch in November last year, the Queensland police helicopter has been activated 894 times over 319 flight hours for various policing duties including drug crop identification, searches and traffic management,” he said.
“This clearly shows that a police helicopter has been needed in the region for many years and I congratulate the Gold Coast City Council for taking the initiative where the previous Labor Government refused to act.”
Gold Coast Acting Mayor Daphne McDonald said extending the existing police helicopter contract would allow the Government sufficient time to make its own arrangements.
"The most practical way to ensure there is no disruption to the Police helicopter operations is for Council to extend its existing contract and the Government take over the funding," Cr McDonald said.
"Council has been proud to initiate this important service for the Gold Coast community, but at the end of this month, it is time to hand over responsibility to the State where it belongs.”
The helicopter is a Bell 206L Long Ranger and is fitted with hardware required of a police chopper including a powerful state-of-the-art FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Camera) infrared and thermal imaging long distance camera.
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