Cochise County officials recently unveiled “Cochise Air” — a $1.5 million law enforcement helicopter program that will aid police and sheriff’s deputies.

Cochise Air is a Bell 206L4 chopper that carries six passengers and a pilot. The helicopter can cover the county in about 30 minutes.

It will be housed in a hangar at the Sierra Vista Municipal Airport.

The helicopter program, funded by a private foundation, includes fuel, pilots, mechanics and law enforcement observers, said Carol Capas, a Cochise County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.

The observers assist the pilot with visual observations, geographic navigation and communication with dispatchers.

The foundation, which was not revealed, will provide funding for the one-year exploratory program.

It was developed to fit the special needs of sheriff’s deputies and Sierra Vista police in patrolling large areas with limited personnel, Capas said.

Carmen Duarte