WINTHROP HARBOR, Ill – The Illinois Department of Central Management Services announced today announced that the coordinated effort between local, state and federal officials to secure a surplus military helicopter – at no cost to the state – will soon enhance public safety and heighten counter-drug and counter-terrorism operations in communities throughout Northern Illinois.
Next week, the Winthrop Harbor Police Department will receive the Bell OH-58A helicopter through a state program that secures federal surplus on behalf of local law enforcement agencies statewide – the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) coordinated by Central Management Services (CMS). The helicopter, originally purchased by the U.S. Department of Defense for $92,290, will help monitor and secure nuclear facilities located approximately 60 miles north of Chicago, as well as enhance the public safety services along the Illinois lakefront of Lake Michigan.
“Police officers and other safety officials work diligently to promote public safety throughout the state, and Illinois government is doing its part to ensure these everyday heroes have access to the equipment they need to keep people safe,” said CMS Director Paul Campbell. “Governor Blagojevich has challenged state agencies to heighten their support of public safety efforts, and we’ve answered that call. Our efforts range widely, from securing cars, computers and helicopters for police agencies to equipping surplus cars for drug surveillance programs. The surplus federal equipment that we’ve secured for law enforcement officials at no cost plays an important role in counter-terrorism and drug-enforcement activities in Illinois.”
Through CMS, law enforcement agencies statewide annually obtain millions of dollars in equipment that they need to operate effectively. As the statewide coordinator for the national LESO program, CMS works to locate and secure vehicles, furniture, electronics and other unneeded federal property to match the logistical requirements of hundreds of state, county and municipal police agencies in Illinois. Priority is given to agencies that use the surplus U.S. Department of Defense property for counter-drug enforcement and counter-terrorism purposes.
“This helicopter adds another significant capability to Illinois’ homeland security arsenal, and also will enhance our ability to safeguard the critical water supply that Lake Michigan represents,” said Col. Jill Morgenthaler, the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety.
This helicopter is the second Defense Department helicopter that CMS has secured for Illinois. Last year, CMS coordinated and approved the transfer of the state’s first OH-58 to Countryside Police Department in Will County. Since being placed into service in October 2005, the helicopter has logged more than 100 flight hours on homeland security, counter-drug, and search and rescue missions.
“As a former sheriff, I know first-hand the difficulties that budget restraints often place on purchasing public safety equipment, which is why the LESO program is so important. I commend CMS for working long hours to locate and secure this essential equipment for police agencies in Illinois and I fully support their efforts,” said State Senator George Shadid (D-Peoria).
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, CMS obtained surplus equipment worth $5.1 million for Illinois police agencies – up 34%, or $1.3 million, from the previous year, and nearly double the $2.7 million provided in Fiscal Year 2004.
Many communities in Illinois benefited through the program last year, receiving valuable public safety equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars, including:
• Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department $610,000
• Marengo Police Department $291,582
• Marion County Sheriff’s Department $291,000
• Will County Sheriff’s Department $262,000
• Oakbrook Police Department $212,000
• Bolingbrook Police Department $205,000
• S. Surburban Emergency Response Team $198,591
• Forest Preserve District of Will County $193,754
• Litchfield Police Department $155,058
• Deer Creek Police Department $152,754
• Washington County Sheriff Department $144,250
• Fon Du Lac Police Department $142,628
• Toulon Police Department $120,393
• Wyoming Police Department $107,812
• Lockport Police Department $106,775
• Somonauk Police Department $102,348
Altogether, the CMS/LESO program serves more than 680 state, county, municipal, and special task forces across Illinois. In January 2006, CMS was recognized by the Chicago Police Department with an Appreciation of Service award for its successful efforts to locate and approve the transfer of federal property including Kevlar vests, helmets, IT equipment, and more for use in Chicago-area precincts. Last year CMS approved the transfer of more than $725,000 in property to the department.