The Swarm

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May 29, 2012
Sacramento police department gets a good deal on a helicopter
It's a tale for our times: One local agency's financial pain is another's gain.

In this case, the Sacramento Police Department is getting a free helicopter, plus spare parts and components - a total value of $350,000.

The Bell OH-58 is being donated by the Yamhill County Sheriff's Department in Oregon, just north of Salem. It can no longer afford to have an air operations program.

Under military surplus rules, the copter has to be returned to the military or transferred to another law agency. The department couldn't find a taker, apparently due to concerns about potential cost, until it reached Sacramento on the military surplus list.

The City Council has on its agenda this evening a motion to officially authorize the helicopter's acceptance.

The department says there will be no additional cost because it will continue to have only one helicopter in the air at any given time. The donated helicopter is the same model as the department's two 40-year-old helicopters. Adding it to the rotation will extend how long they can be used, as will all the spare parts, saving the city money over the long run.

"Nothing but upside," says police Capt. Stephen Quinn.

This is a rare bit of good news for a department slammed hard by spending cuts in recent years and facing potential layoffs in the 2012-13 budget before the council. The city should land the chopper before someone changes their mind.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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