BCSO prepares for return of Metro Air Support Unit

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – This is an emotional time of year for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. We are days away from the one-year mark since four heroes, Bernalillo County Undersheriff Larry Koren, Lt. Fred Beers, Deputy Michael Levison, and Bernalillo County Fire Rescue specialist Matthew King, died in a helicopter crash near Las Vegas.

“Things are becoming emotional once again it brings up a lot of memories we don’t want to deal with, but we know we have to, and we know we have to move forward,” said Bernaillo County Sheriff John Allen.

Sheriff Allen is now deciding what the restored Metro Air Support will look like. The department’s remaining helicopter hasn’t been flying since Allen took office.

“We’re coming up on the anniversary of four people who died doing what they love, and serving their community and their state. So it’s very important to me to make sure the families are involved, and also the people that are still in the air unit. Those are their friends and people that they work with every day,” said Allen.

Allen says they’re firming up new protocols now, and members of the unit are getting trained and certified. The plan is to be flying again by the fall.

“We can’t reevaluate everything that happened during the crash or the incident, but we want to make sure if we made internal mistakes how can we improve, we want to make sure this unit is the best that it can be,” said Allen. “When it comes to protocol, policy, how we run the unit, we’re reevaluating everything also getting opinions from other agencies and making sure we do this correct.”

Sgt. Charles Lill, the department’s only pilot right now, agrees safety and certification have to come first.

“I think it’s a very worthwhile experience and something that we need in the city right now to help combat the crime problems that we have. So I’m just excited to get moving and get back to patrol,” said Lill. “We have a huge crime problem in the city. So it’s something you really need, and the rescue portion of it as well. I mean, we’ve had somebody die on the mountain this year, that could have been picked up with a helicopter and brought to safety. So there’s definitely an aspect there for rescue as well.”

As for the investigation into the Metro Two helicopter crash last year, Allen says the NTSB report could come in six months, or three years. There is no firm timeline on when our state could get any more answers about what happened that day.