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Pima Sheriff’s Dept. unveils new aircraft

Expects more abilities and reduced maintenance
Posted at 6:48 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 21:48:06-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Pima County Sheriff’s Department is showing off the first of two new airplanes. The new planes in the air should help deputies work better on the ground.

The Sheriff’s Department displayed the first of two Cessna Caravans that’ll be flying for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. They’re bigger than the planes they replace. They can fly longer without refueling, and they should spend much less time under repair than the older airplanes.

The planes feature the latest instruments and navigation, and carry a sophisticated camera pod able to see the heat people and things give off. That lets the air crew see in the dark. Pilot Chris Janes says that makes things safer for deputies on the ground.

“So there's threats that we can identify the guys on the ground, it makes their job a lot easier, a lot safer. If there's a crime in progress, we're there. Vehicle pursuits, if they're pursuing a vehicle, and we're on station the guys on the ground can back off, and this has a whole safety aspect of the community as well.”

Two of the planes cost about $7.5 million altogether.

While the aviation unit looks forward to newer more capable planes it looks back to remember its beginnings.

Keith Shoemaker donated the badge his father Harold wore in the 1950s when he was a volunteer using his own plane to fly search and rescue and other missions for the Sheriff’s Department.

“And they wanted to do something to help out whatever and whether they knew somebody in the department, I don't know. I never got that story. They wanted to fly, do whatever they could, and this seemed like a good idea. Turned into what it is here today.

Now, the new aircraft will carry that tradition to greater heights.