A chopper to call our own
THE days of Ipswich police relying on civilian and media helicopters as their eye in the sky could be coming to an end.
Police Minister Jack Dempsey has confirmed the Gold Coast-based police helicopter will be able to service Ipswich, while a second helicopter will be based out of Brisbane by 2015.
Mr Dempsey, who grew up in Ipswich, said the helicopters would be able to respond to crimes and emergencies as far west as the Lockyer Valley.
"If an emergency policing situation calls for its use in Ipswich and Lockyer Valley, it will be deployed to the area," he said.
"With two helicopters - one based in Brisbane and one on the Gold Coast - if run correctly, our policy will be to service this area.
"The police helicopter is available for work throughout south-east Queensland and will be deployed on an as-needed basis."
Mr Dempsey said no decision regarding where the Brisbane helicopter would be based had yet been made.
Police were forced to rely on media helicopters in order to continue a car chase last month.
On April 22, only days after the chase across Ipswich and Brisbane, the State Government took over funding for the Gold Coast helicopter from the Gold Coast City Council following a six-month trial.
Police union president Ian Leavers said the two helicopters would be a welcome addition to the police force's arsenal.
Mr Leavers said the helicopters would be able to cover Ipswich and as far west as Toowoomba.
"We welcome and support Campbell Newman and the LNP's commitment of two police helicopters for south-east Queensland," he said.
"I have confidence in the ability of these two helicopters, when they commence active duty, to service the south-east corner of Queensland and to cover areas such as Ipswich and Toowoomba."
Mr Dempsey said helicopters had become the vital piece missing from the Queensland Police Service.
"Police helicopters have been a basic tool of modern policing for decades in other states, and for many years Queensland police officers and the community were frustrated that the previous Labor Government refused to provide one," Mr Dempsey said.
The Brisbane-based helicopter is expected to be in operation sometime between 2014 and 2015.
During the six-month trial of the helicopter, it was used 894 times for tasks as diverse as drug-crop identification, searches and traffic management.