Commonwealth Journal

News Live

October 25, 2012

SPD to patrol skies in its own gyroplane


Somerset —

Smith said the Calidus was purchased with funding through a cooperative agreement between The Center for Rural Development and the SRTB-RC. SPD made up the remainder of the purchase price — around $13,000 — through money seized from illegal drug trafficking investigations.  
“This is not taxpayers’ money,” Nelson said during Tuesday’s presentation. 
In exchange for funding assistance, the police department will submit data to the program to help with other aviation needs throughout the country.
The Calidus is a bit different from the Magni M24 gyroplane, but Nelson said it offers the city and taxpayers just as much cost savings — and they’ll be able to continue the services that began with the trial period. 
“The bottom line on using non-traditional aircraft for law enforcement operations is this: Increased public safety at a decreased cost,” said Smith through a press release. 
Smith said the Calidus uses around five gallons of automobile-grade gasoline per hour, or less than $20 per hour at today’s fuel rates. 
“That’s a tremendous savings compared to a helicopter that may use 20 or more gallons of jet fuel per hour, which costs over $100 per hour,” Smith added.
The maintenance costs are significantly reduced due to the gyroplane’s simple design and lack of complex systems.
“It (the gyroplane) is a very capable machine,” Smith said. “It really set the pace for us realizing the advantages it would have to our department.”
The Calidus is also equipped with a mobile police radio — something that wasn’t present in the Magni M24.
“If the guys on the ground can’t hear us or can’t understand us, we’re really not as effective as we could be,” Smith said. 
The Somerset Police Department is one of only three law enforcement agencies in the country using a gyroplane for police operations. The Tomball Police Department in Texas and the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland also employ the aircraft. 
“We think it’s the future,” Nelson said on Tuesday.  

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