Metro Narcotics Task Force Unveils Helicopter - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Metro Narcotics Task Force Unveils Helicopter

October 23, 2007

Law enforcement officers in our area now have a high-flying machine to help catch criminals and save lives. Tuesday, the Metro Narcotics Task Force unveiled it's first ever helicopter.

The sound of rotor blades roaring is going to become more familiar to folks living in Muscogee, Harris, and Russell counties.

This helicopter can be in the air in a matter of minutes, whenever any local law enforcement agency needs it.

"We're looking at river rescues, missing children, jail escapes, missing Alheizmer's patients, any forcible felony, and all Homeland Security incidents, we're putting this aircraft in the air," said Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren.

The chopper will be housed at the Columbus Metropolitan Airport, with two pilots on standby.

Within the last few months, it's already been used in Harris County twice, one time when deputies needed to find an accident victim.

"Then there was another incident where there was an airplane crash in our wooded area. We searched for a few hours, couldn't find it. Then we got the helicopter up, and it was found in 15 minutes," said Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley.

For law enforcement in rural counties, the chopper is a resource they could never afford on their own.

"Columbus and Muscogee county are kind of like the big brothers to these other counties. If they have a disaster, like the tornado, we can just take it up and assess the damage," said Muscogee County Sheriff Ralph Johnson.

"We've got 640 square miles in Russell County, which is as big as two Georgia counties, and a lot of it is wilderness. So this will be a big asset for us," said Russell County Sheriff Tommy Boswell.

Chief Ricky Boren says the helicopter and repairs were all paid for with seized drug money.

He says they've applied for a $300,000 grant that will pay for added equipment, like a spotlight, and a thermal imaging system, which finds people in the dark.

Chief Boren says it costs too much to use the chopper on a daily basis, but it will be on call 24-7.

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