Meet the Coast spy in the sky
GOLD Coast Police has its eye in the sky.
Queensland's first police helicopter has arrived on the Gold Coast and the first to get a flight was Mayor Ron Clarke, who has fought to get the latest crime-fighting tool on the Coast.
Police will be using a Bell 206L Long Ranger supplied by Heliwest which has been fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, including an infra-red camera that can register heat signatures of a person up to three kilometres away.
"I am proud council has initiated this trial on behalf of our community," Cr Clarke said.
"Funding a trial police air wing is a first of any local government in the country.
"The helicopter will transform police operational capability on the Gold Coast and become an effective and indispensable tool for combating crime in our region."
Cr Clarke said the helicopter would fly 20 hours a week for the first three months of the trial and sponsorship would ensure that it could continue its flight time for the remainder of the trial.
"I sent the letters out (Friday), but I have already had businesses contacting me asking if they could make a contribution."
South East Region assistant commissioner Paul Wilson said operations would begin next Monday in time for Schoolies.
"The helicopter will be used for crime-fighting, traffic and other public safety operations," he said.
"It will be used on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday and it will be on standby other days on the week.
"If there was a major incident at one of our neighbours (including northern NSW) it would be remiss of me not to task the helicopter there."
Queensland Police Union chief executive officer Ian Leavers was a strong supporter of a helicopter on the Coast and said at the launch that it was an historic day for policing in Queensland.
"In the last 12 months the Gold Coast has had its fair share of issues," he said.
"I hope this trial will be successful and show there is a great need for police helicopters around the state."
Mr Leavers said funding of helicopters should be a State Government responsibility.