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Police helicopters head for auction block in Costa Mesa

January 24, 2012 |  4:19 pm

First, Costa Mesa dumped its police helicopter program as part of a drastic austerity effort. Now,  it’s selling off the birds.

Private brokers have been retained to sell off what remains of the former police helicopter program, which once patrolled the streets of Costa Mesa and neighboring Newport from the sky, the Daily Pilot reported.

The Airborne Law Enforcement agency, which served the neighboring Orange County cities, was grounded in July after a 30-year run.

Jack Schafer Aircraft Sales will probably be the first to get a crack at selling the agency’s three police choppers while Alabama-based GovDeals Inc., an auction firm that deals mostly online, will try to sell off what equipment isn't being absorbed back into the two police departments.

Like Schafer's contract, GovDeals has a month-long agreement. Its contract charges the prospective buyer a 5% premium on top of the purchase price, giving the cities full value of its equipment.

Costa Mesa is now contracting with Huntington Beach to use its police helicopter on an as-needed basis for $700 an hour. Newport also struck its own deal with Huntington Beach for regular patrols instead of emergency responses.


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Photo: Police helicopter patrols Costa Mesa in 2005. Credit: L.A. Times