In addition to a new mobile equipment storage truck and armored vehicle, the St. Louis County Police Department has purchased a new helicopter for its Metro Air Support Division.
The $2.1 million craft is a MD-500e helicopter that will replace an older 1967 surplus army helicopter currently used by Metro Air Support, maintaining its fleet of aircraft at six.
The St. Louis County Police Department was able to purchase the helicopter by jointly applying with the St. Louis Port Authority for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Urban Areas Security Initiative. The grant paid for the entirety of the cost.
Bureau of Patrol Support Commander Capt. John Belmar said this means Metro Air Support will work more closely with the port authority to monitor and patrol along the area's waterways, helping with spotting ice floes or directing barge traffic. It means a closer relationship with the St. Louis unit of the United States Coast Guard as well, such as providing more coordinated assistance on search-and-rescue missions.
"We can assist the Coast Guard by being their eyes in the air," he said. "We have taken on a little broader mission by accepting this, but a lot of it is stuff we were already doing anyway."