The Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of two new helicopters for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday.
Sheriff Stan Sniff requested the new helicopters for public safety operations. The county will finance the purchases, which will cost $11.5M. One helicopter will take the place of a Vietnam-era aircraft that’s overdue for retirement.
The other chopper is set to replace a helicopter that was destroyed in a crash at Hemet-Ryan Airport in August. County officials said insurance proceeds from the crashed helicopter will cover nearly $2M of the cost.
“We are very pleased that the Board of Supervisors approved the acquisition of two new helicopters today and that the County Executive Office was able to coordinate the financing of those aircraft,” Sheriff Stan Sniff said in a statement. “The sheriff’s department utilizes these powerful law enforcement tools throughout Riverside County to better protect our communities and our deputies and police officers.”
Sniff said the helicopters are absolutely critical in disasters and in search and rescue missions in the mountains and remote desert areas. They also safeguard citizen volunteers and deputies from undue risk and danger.
According to Sniff, it will take some time before the new replacement helicopters are ready to go. They have to be factory built and then fully equipped for the police service.
But the approval moves the sheriff’s department closer to its eventual goal of positioning some of its aircraft in the Coachella Valley on a permanent basis at the Thermal Sheriff’s Station, which Sniff said will better support Eastern Riverside County, as originally envisioned by the late 4th District Supervisor, Roy Wilson.