News Releases

(Washington D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that she included $500,000 to support law enforcement efforts in Spokane County in the Fiscal Year 2011 Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill that was approved today by the Senate Appropriations CJS Subcommittee. The funding will be used to provide air support to law enforcement and firefighting agencies of the Inland Northwest.

Prior to 2009, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) provided air support services at no cost to any requesting law enforcement agency. However, last year, this free service had to end due to emergency budgetary constraints. As a result, agencies are now required to reimburse SCSO for air support services. This has led agencies with similarly tight budgets to forgo utilizing these services, putting people who live in rural communities particularly at risk.

This funding will solve this problem by allowing SCSO to offer air support services to the entire Inland Northwest region at no cost to the requesting agency.  The funding will also ensure that critical equipment and pilot skills are utilized to protect the community.

“This investment in Spokane County law enforcement will allow agencies across the Inland Northwest to utilize critical air support services for search and rescue, fire suppression, natural disasters, and other local law enforcement priorities,” said Senator Murray. “Ensuring that agencies have access to this support will help keep our communities safe and secure and will effectively utilize the Spokane County Sheriff’s Air Support Unit.”

“The Inland Northwest Airborne Law Enforcement Coalition project will increase the safety of the citizens of the Inland Northwest by providing search and rescue, surveillance, drug interdiction, fire suppression, natural disaster damage assessments, pursuit management, and suspect searching services for the entire region. In these difficult times where local law enforcement agencies are being forced to eliminate law enforcement positions due to economic difficulties, the usage of a force multiplier like the Air Support Unit is critical,” said Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.