Police helicopter here soon

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s long awaited helicopter should arrive on-island in two to three months, legislators were told last week.

In his first appearance before a Finance Committee meeting, RCIPS Acting Commissioner David George said the helicopter is still in the US, but added the RCIPS now has someone working ‘to tie up all the loose ends’ to speed-up its arrival.

‘We anticipated the question around the helicopter would be asked,’ he said to laughs from both sides of the house. ‘We’ve actually got some pictures today,’ he said before passing them around the LA.

‘At least we have a picture now,’ said Bodden Town MLA Osbourne Bodden. ‘Now I feel a little closer.’

There have been conflicting accounts of what has delayed the arrival of the 1999 Eurocopter, which the Government allocated $1.8 million toward in May 2007.

Before his suspension over allegations of misconduct, Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan had said the delay was partly due to the tendering process for the helicopter’s maintenance, hangar construction and piloting services.

In late April, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts listed none of those reasons, but said the helicopter was being refitted and needed extra parts.

He also said at the time the Government was working with the Civil Aviation Authority to get all the necessary authorisations to bring the helicopter here from the US.

RCIPS spokesperson Deborah Denis said Wednesday it was a case of ‘all of the above’.

‘There are delays around tendering for the maintenance and piloting of the helicopter. We also need a certificate of air worthiness from the CAA. The helicopter is also currently being painted,’ Ms Denis said.

On Friday CAA Director General Richard Smith told the LA there is nothing from the CAA’s perspective preventing the helicopter being brought to Cayman, but added other things needed to be done to allow it to operate in a police role.

The RCIPS originally hoped to have the helicopter on-island by September 2007 for use in police surveillance and patrol operations.

The RCIPS uses a private helicopter service, Cayman Helicopters, paying for the service on an hourly basis as it is needed.

Mr. Kernohan had lobbied the government frequently to buy the helicopter, saying that air-support operations are an essential part of modern policing. Mr. George has also stated his support for the helicopter’s purchase.

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