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Mon, May 07, 2012

Winnipeg Making Do With One Helicopter

Police Chief Says He Can’t Justify Second Aircraft

Winnipeg’s police chief Keith McCaskill gave an update to the city’s protection committee Monday morning regarding the status of the police department’s helicopter. McCaskill said the department can’t yet justify a second aircraft, after a CTV news report prompted calls for a second unit. The report said the helicopter had been grounded lately due to maintenance and staffing issues. Neighboring cities Calgary and Edmonton both have two helicopters but Chief McCaskill said the department can say whether a second one if necessary until the first has been fully evaluated.

"The helicopter is a very expensive tool. It's a very exceptional tool," he said. "If we're in a position to say that there should be an expansion, then we'd make the recommendation. We’re not there yet." He added that his helicopter has been grounded primarily due to staffing issues arising from two pilots quitting in recent months. "This is a tool we want up as much as we possibly can. Two less pilots makes an impact" McCaskill said.

The chief advised the committee that the helicopter had flown for 1,100 hours and responded to over 2,000 incidents since January 2011. It helped net 147 arrests last year and flew an average of 81 hours each month. During the first three months of 2012 the aircraft flew about 40 hours each month on average. A search is ongoing to find another pilot while the department prepares a more detailed update for city officials.



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