BOISE, Idaho — Over the better part of the last decade, Idaho has grown quickly and with an increase in population. Now, Idaho State Police (ISP) is looking for more resources to help patrol the state.
ISP is looking for $7.1 million dollars to fund a helicopter, staff and a new hangar. Representative Greg Chaney of Caldwell sponsored HR16, which according to the bill would offer, "support by the House of Representatives for the request by the Idaho State Police for $7.1 million for the purchase of an H124 Airbus helicopter."
During the House Judiciary Rules and Administration Committee hearing Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers decided to hold the bill in committee after much debate.
ISP Colonel Kedrick Wills testified in favor of the resolution alongside, Boise PD staff and the Canyon County Sheriff. During testimony, the agencies stated with Idaho’s terrain and growth, a helicopter would help troopers be able to search areas they wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.
“We intend to use this for law enforcement-specific operations such as pursuits. Using helicopters in pursuits give us a vantage point and keeps everybody safer on the road because we don't have to subject our officers to what they're seeing on the road nor the dangers of pursuit or the person being pursued or the public because we can monitor it from the air which is much safer,” Wills said.
Canyon County Sheriff Keiran Donahue said the more Idaho grows, the more search and rescue missions there will be, and having a helicopter in the area would increase the response time.
“There will be more missing children and we're going to have more, unfortunately, people who die in areas that are unreachable by a pickup truck, four-Wheeler, and so on and so forth. When we're looking for children and others where time is of the essence, and unfortunately we've lost those children where we believe that at times if we'd had. something in the air to help us facilitate that we would have found that missing child in time,” Donahue said.
Representative Gary Marshall of Idaho Falls asked about the logistics of a helicopter stationed in Boise, and how it would be utilized across the state.
“I can't imagine in my mind how a helicopter stationed here in Boise could ever be of use to those of us in eastern Idaho or northern Idaho. I think I understand how important that would be, but the bottom line is it’s probably going to be used in the Boise area almost exclusively,” Marshall said.
Ultimately, lawmakers voted to hold the bill in committee after having more questions and concerns about funding, staffing and more.