Grand Jury Response

May 28, 1996

The Honorable Judge William L. Gordon
Presiding Judge, Superior Court
1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93121

PREPAREDNESS FOR DISASTERS Dear Judge Gordon:Enclosed is the Sheriff Department's response to the Findings and Recommendation of the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury 1995-96 Interim Final Report "Preparedness for Disasters" released on April 8, 1996, with special attention to finding #6. As requested, we are submitting the response on computer disk, along with a printed copy.

If you have any questions regarding the response, or if you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact Undersheriff Dave Dorsey at extension 4288.


Jim Thomas


cc: Kent Taylor, County Administrator
Spencer Boise, Grand Jury Foreman

RESPONSE TO 1995- 1996


FINDING #6: Santa Barbara County needs its own helicopter for emergencies in times of disasters.

RECOMMENDATION #6: The Sheriff's Department should continue to try to obtain from government surplus a larger helicopter that could be used jointly with the County Fire Department for rescue, fire and ambulance service throughout the county.

RESPONSE: The Sheriff's Department concurs with the Grand Jury's recommendation. On July 22, 1995 the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department took custody of one US Army surplus helicopter, model OH-58. In September of 1995, the Sheriff's Department received a second OH-58 helicopter. The second aircraft is not flyable. It is the intent of the Sheriff's Department to use this aircraft for surplus parts.

The OH-58 civilian counterpart is the Bell Helicopter Jet Ranger, series 206 with the C-20 engine. FAA regulations require that all military aircraft be converted to meet civilian regulations prior to being put into service. Currently our OH-58 helicopter is in Van Nuys California at an authorized Bell Helicopter service center for re-configuration to meet the FAA requirements. Our goal is to have this helicopter in service by the end of this summer.

The intended use of our helicopter will be for patrol, drug enforcement, and search & rescue. This aircraft will be used for, but not limited to: Scouting missions, marijuana searches, surveillances, raid team transports, evidence transportation, and for all search and rescue missions.

Currently, the Sheriff's Department does plan to accept more of the OH-58 helicopters, to utilize as a parts inventory; however, it is not this department's intent to pursue the acquisition of the "Huey" helicopter. The "Huey" helicopter is larger than the OH-58 and better suited for medical situations and for use as a water drop helicopter. The cost to retrofit this helicopter, for civilian use, is four times greater than the OH-58, and the annual cost to operate it.

The Fire Department is currently on the waiting list for a "Huey" from the U.S. Military. The Huey, a larger aircraft, can be used for wild land fire fighting, search and rescue and medical transportation throughout the county. It is our understanding that the Fire Department is still pursuing these efforts.