Thursday, November 10, 2011

California: Orange County Sheriff's Department Investigating Helicopter Joyride

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has opened an internal investigation into an anonymous complaint that a helicopter supervisor took his girlfriend on a joy ride Oct. 10.

The investigation, confirmed by sheriff’s spokesman John McDonald, was sparked by a typed letter that alleges the helicopter supervisor flew his girlfriend around Orange County.

The letter was sent to some members of the Board of Supervisors, and then forwarded to the Sheriff’s Department. It did not name the helicopter supervisor.
If true, the accusation hearkens back to a darker time in the department’s history, when then-Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo had a helicopter retrieve his wife’s purse, and when rumors swirled that now-jailed Sheriff Mike Carona used the helicopters for romantic trysts.

Besides the political ramifications, there are the costs – nearly $1,000 an hour to operate the copter.

Spiraling costs forced Newport Beach and Costa Mesa to mothball their police helicopters, and other cities are keeping tabs on their air patrols.

“We should not be funding joy rides in the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Helicopter!” says the anonymous letter, signed “Concerned Orange County Citizen.”

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