Sun Herald received Jackson County Sheriff's Office helicopter records for one of two choppers

Sheriff says rest are in second chopper

mbbaker@sunherald.comJuly 22, 2013 

Byrd

PASCAGOULA -- Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd last week released flight records for one of two Sheriff's Office helicopters, and said the reason he hasn't turned the records over for the other one is because the records are inside the chopper, which is at a shop undergoing maintenance.

Byrd did not tell the Sun Herald at the time the records were released that they did not include the flight records and fuel costs for both of the Sheriff's Office helicopters.

He released the data for the one helicopter last week, less than a week after he told the Sun Herald he didn't consider the information public record.

Also included in the records he turned over was information on how his department spent drug-forfeiture money in 2013.

The flight records the Sun Herald did obtain showed the Sheriff's Office used the helicopter to patrol the local port and the county, to participate in Memorial Day patrols, to search for a lost plane, for maintenance runs and for pubic relations, though the logs did not specify the type of public relations.

The logs showed the one helicopter that the Sun Herald has records on was flown a total of 39 times since April 2011.

In addition, the records show, the helicopter was used in 2012 for numerous maintenance runs, a mission to search for a missing crew member after a Coast Guard helicopter crash, patrol missions in the Vancleave area, for county patrols of the rivers, for public relations at a Baptist church and to take part in the USS Mississippi convoy and commissioning.

Also, the records show Byrd was aboard the one helicopter on at least 14 missions between 2011 and 2013. For example, the sheriff flew with a pilot on a recovery operation in Ocean Springs for two drowning victims, on Memorial Day patrols and to patrol waterways.

The 2013 operations, the records show, included what is referred to as "hover practice" at Trent Lott International Airport in 2013 and a public relations event at First United Methodist Church.

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