Budget shortfalls and projected layoffs haven't gotten in the way the Broward Sheriff's Office buying a brand-new toy.
It's a Eurocopter EC135 made in Germany. Estimated cost: $4 million. See this link on the purchase of a new audio system for the new helicopter.
Don't make a mistake: The sheriff's office needs helicopters -- they're used for important things like catching killers and transporting hurt people. But a new one being purchased now, while people are being laid off and the sheriff is claiming he can't find anywhere to make cuts, just doesn't seem right. Forgoing such a luxury would obviously save dozens of jobs that are being lost now.
The sheriff has been asked to cut $60 million out of his budget. He's basically saying he can't do it. Earlier this week, Al Lamberti threatened to pull deputies out of our schools due to the money shortage.
The sheriff's air support unit, with an annual budget of $3.2 million, has boasted three helicopters for several years. BSO's website, however, is contradictory on how many it has today. In one spot, it says it has three Eurocopters, but in a caption under a photo, there is an indication the agency has four.
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I sent questions about the need and cost of the new helicopter to the extensive team of media-relations professionals working for Sheriff Lamberti and will update when I get a response.
Inside, you can see a piece of video that gives you a real good look at one of these birds.