Mr. Bush said in a broadcast address that selling the aircraft would save the Cayman Islands about $1.7 million per year in operating costs.
“The sale of the police helicopter has neither been discussed nor has the impact of its loss been subject of any input by the RCIPS,” a police spokesperson confirmed Thursday afternoon. “The loss of the Air Operations Unit would have a considerable impact on our ability to maintain our current level of operational effectiveness.”
The police helicopter, a 1999 Eurocopter model craft, was purchased by the police service in 2007 for $1.8 million. However, it took the Cayman Islands government nearly three years to bring the vehicle into the country after obtaining necessary aviation safety approvals for its use.
Since March 2010, the helicopter has assisted in numerous search and rescue missions, as well as suspect searches and arrests on Grand Cayman. The aircraft and the RCIPS air operations team recently received certification to participate in ‘air ambulance’ missions as well.
The sale of the helicopter would obviously prevent it from being used in such a capacity, police said.
“We are seeking urgent clarification from government on this matter,” the police statement read.
Officials with Premier Bush’s administration confirmed Thursday that there had been no purchase offers for the aircraft.