POLICE in Cheshire are flying high with the arrival of a new tool in their fight against crime.
The £5.3m Eurocopter has replaced the force plane, which has retired after nine years and more than 4,000 hours flying above the county.
The helicopter can reach life-threatening car crashes or serious crime scenes in any part of Cheshire within 15 minutes.
Unlike the plane, it can land at any rural location and can stay airborne for up to two hours. It can also hover as low as 300ft – enabling officers on board to relay information to officers on the ground in locating a suspect.
Chief superintendent Tim Jackson, head of Cheshire Constabulary’s Uniform Operations, said: “The arrival of the helicopter has been much anticipated. I am sure that it will greatly enhance our ability to fight crime and make our communities safer.
“Our fixed wing aircraft did sterling service for many years but the Eurocopter will significantly enhance our capabilities.”
Two pilots with military flying experience will fly the aircraft and there will always be two trained police observers on board.
The introduction of the helicopter means officers will no longer always have to conduct dangerous searches of rooftops and railway lines.
Equipped with thermal imaging technology so it can be deployed day and night, the helicopter crew can track stolen cars so that police vehicles do not always need to be closely involved in high speed pursuits.
All the crew have received first aid training from the North West Ambulance Service and are qualified to ‘First Responder’ level.