Chicago may never replace Los Angeles as the center for crime-fighting by whirly-bird. But, there’s a new high-tech helicopter in the air to assist police officers on the ground.

The new hi-tech Helicopter One is unveiled at the Chicago Marine Safety Station.

On Thursday, Mayor Daley, retiring police Supt. Phil Cline and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart showed off the new $2.1 million helicopter purchased with Homeland Security funds. It was positioned on the lakefront, alongside a former Chicago Fire Department helicopter retrofitted for police use last year.

The new chopper has all of the bells and whistles, including night vision instrumentation that allows officers wearing night-vision goggles to see in the dark; a gamma radiation detector that could be used to locate dirty bombs; and a LoJack stolen vehicle detection system. It’s also equipped with a special map system, powerful video cameras that can downlink pictures to Chicago’s 911 emergency center and a searchlight.

The police department disbanded a two-helicopter unit in 1979 to save money and free up officers for patrol duty. "The technology that exists today didn’t exist then. At that time, it was basically, ‘Lift man up, look out window,’ " said chief pilot Harold Hohm.

Via: The Sun Times