Acquisition of helicopters from federal government will strengthen
public safety in Rockford, Peoria
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[DEC. 16, 2006]
CHICAGO -- Continuing his efforts to enhance
public safety in Illinois, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced Nov. 22
that the state will acquire from the federal government two
helicopters that will be available for search-and-rescue,
counter-drug and counter-terrorism operations in Illinois. The
helicopters will be provided to Rockford and Peoria area police
departments to assist public safety officials in these regions.
The Belvidere and Byron police departments will
each receive a Bell OH-58A helicopter through a state program -- the
Law Enforcement Support Office, coordinated by the Illinois
Department of Central Management Services -- that secures federal
surplus on behalf of local law enforcement agencies. The
helicopters, previously used by the U.S. Department of Defense, will
meet regional public safety needs with no acquisition costs to the
state or local agencies.
"Law enforcement officers in Peoria and
Rockford now have new tools to help protect their communities,"
Blagojevich said. "These helicopters flying overhead will help fight
drugs, terrorists and also help in search and rescue."
In addition to the helicopters for Belvidere and Byron, the state
previously coordinated and approved the transfer of two helicopters
from the federal government to local law enforcement agencies:
Countryside Police Department in Will County and Winthrop Harbor in
Lake County. Together, these four helicopters will enhance Illinois'
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Law enforcement agencies statewide annually obtain millions of
dollars in equipment that they need to operate effectively,
including vehicles, furniture, electronics and other unneeded
federal property. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, Central
Management Services obtained a record amount of surplus equipment,
totaling $5.1 million for Illinois police agencies. That amount is
up 34 percent, or $1.3 million, from the previous year and nearly
double the $2.7 million provided in fiscal 2004.
"Recently I learned about how one of the helicopters the state
previously acquired was used to help to find a missing person, and I
know that this equipment is impacting people's lives," said Paul
Campbell, director of Central Management Services. "These
helicopters also play a role in improving counter-terrorism and
drug-enforcement activities in Illinois, and that means safer
neighborhoods and communities for our families."
State officials continue to work with the Department of Defense
to identify communities where additional public safety equipment can
[News release from the governor's