Officials with the Austin Police Department are asking for a brand new helicopter, a new eye in the sky, which would set taxpayers back millions of dollars.
If approved, the $3.7 million 2013 Eurocopter would be APD’s third air unit. It would be the newest aircraft in a fleet which includes a 2001 model and a military helicopter from 1969.
With another aircraft in service, police said they could have two up in the air, rather than one, and could leave the army surplus helicopter grounded.
"When the aircraft is involved in a pursuit, it tends to de-escalate things,” Lt. Kurt Rothert said. “We are able to let the officers back up, give a cushion to the person that is being pursued, and that in turn, de-escalates their desire to get away."
The new helicopter would have state-of-the-art technology and allow emergency workers to assist fire-fighting efforts with water drops.
"As the aircraft age and they get more hours on them, they become more and more of a maintenance issue to keep them flying,” Lt. Rothert said. “They require more money and more time on the mechanic's part to keep them flying."
APD officials are asking the Austin City Council to write a letter of intent which would reserve them a spot in the production line. The helicopter would arrive a year or more after the letter is written or the order is made.