County approves federal grant application for SABLE helicopter update is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Wilmington's SABLE team. Photo source: Wilmington Police Department.
Wilmington’s SABLE team. Photo courtesy Wilmington Police Department.

New Hanover County commissioners have approved a joint application for federal funds slated for updates to one of Wilmington’s Southeastern North Carolina AirBorne Law Enforcement (SABLE) helicopters.

Commissioners approved a request from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office for a memorandum of understanding with the City of Wilmington to apply for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistant Grant (JAG) program with the U.S. Department of Justice for the 2015 fiscal year at last week’s meeting.

The funding amount of $71,478, which is eligible as a joint allocation, would supply $35,739 in federal funds to each agency. The submission of joint application is required for the funds. A memorandum of understanding between the county and city is required as part of the JAG grant process. There is no local match requirement, according to a summary of the request submitted to commissioners.

According to Malcolm Phelps, grants manager with the Wilmington Police Department, if the grant is approved, all the money will go toward an electrical wiring update for the SABLE 2 helicopter.

“The wiring on the helicopter is original wiring–it’s a 1968 helicopter–so it’s in need of replacing,” Phelps said. “There are very few vendors in this country that do this work. So it has to be taken out of state. There is no vendor in North Carolina.”

SABLE 1 went out to Tennessee earlier this month for the same update, which is also funded by the JAG grant program, Phelps said.

The two helicopters, operated by the police department, are used by a number of agencies in southeastern North Carolina, including the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, police spokeswoman Linda Rawley said.

The police department is responsible for all daily operations, administrative requirements, budgeting and is the primary liaison for the program. According to SABLE’s website, the helicopters support and increase the effectiveness of officers in the field through aerial observation and communication.

The JAG program provides states and local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas, including law enforcement, prosecution and court programs, prevention and education programs, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, crime victim and witnesses initiatives and planning evaluation, and technology improvement programs, according to the JAG website.

For more information about the SABLE Air Unit, click here.