Harford County Sheriff unveils new police chopper

First chopper in department history

FOREST HILL. Md. -  She's a Bell Model OH 58 A Plus chopper.

The former military scout was gutted and refurbished to make the Harford County Sheriff's Office airborne for first time ever.

The air frame is from 1970 but as far as the sheriff is concerned, the old gal is a bute.

[How long have you wanted one of these?]  "You know what?  When I first came on in the department in 1972 I said it would be great if Harford County had a helicopter.  This is something I never thought I would see in my time," said Sheriff Jesse Bane.

Sheriff Bane unveiled the chopper and Harford County's new aviation division Tuesday morning.

The helicopter was given to the department through a Department of Defense program called a 1033, basically a hand-me-down operation between the feds and local law enforcement.

Flying it will also spare tax payers Bane says, instead using drug forfeiture money to fund the 125 thousand dollars they figure it will take to operate and maintain what he called a part time unit.

"It's just like it was meant to be because everything just fell into place, the aircraft was available, it is a very well maintained aircraft.  Everything just worked out perfectly for it to occur at this point and time," the sheriff said.

Even its tail number, Harford County requested and got number 5-5-4.

That was Corporal William McMillion's badge number, he died this past March from cancer but the sheriff says he was instrumental in pushing for this chopper since the county applied for it back in 2010.

McMillion's wife and family were on hand to see it for themselves.

"It's a proud moment," his widow Melissa McMillion said with a broad smile, "I think he is with us every day."

Every day both in her memory and soon, in the skies above Harford County; a critical law enforcement tool the sheriff believes will mostly be used for patrolling his part of the I-95 corridor and searching for missing people.

Bane says he only figures on flying the chopper about 300 hours a year but no longer needs to rely on nearby Baltimore County or Maryland State Police for aircraft when needed.

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