Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $500,000)
The Spokane Regional Air Support Unit (SRASU) is a regional aviation unit dedicated to assisting and improving public safety. It is a partnership led by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and comprised of partner agencies including the Spokane Police Department, Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department, Liberty Lake Police Department, Spokane Valley Fire Department, and Spokane Fire Department. All of those agencies provide staffing to this program, which was established in 2005.
The SRASU provides aerial support to public safety agencies responding to fugitive apprehension, search and rescue, fire suppression, gang and drug surveillance, and disaster management.
The SRASU operates two Bell OH-58 helicopters, which were manufactured in 1970 and 1971. With these aircraft both being over 50 years old, it is time to replace them with newer, safer, and more technologically capable aircraft. These are the only local/state law enforcement helicopters in eastern Washington and North Idaho. Retirement of the existing helicopters and replacing it with a new helicopter is critical to public safety in the region. Existing aircraft have been utilized all throughout the Pacific Northwest and have saved numerous lives.
A replacement helicopter will cost approximately $3,000,000. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office plans to fund up to $2,000,000 of the purchase by selling of one of current helicopters. Of the remaining $1,000,000, half will be funded by this federal award and the other half are funds that still need to be raised.