Fueling California Gives $10,000 To Keep Aircraft Flying
The Oakland Police Department received a donation which will allow their helicopter to spend more time in the air. Chief of Police Howard Jordan said a $10,000 donation from nonprofit group Fueling California is “a great day for the city of Oakland” because the helicopter is “a force multiplier that helps us respond to calls quicker.”
Television station KTVU reports that Lt. Michael Poirier said the annual funding from the Oakland City Council was $350,000 a year but the 2009 budget cuts lowered that amount to less than $100,000. He added the helicopter flew 1,000 hours in 2008 before the cuts but only 200 hours last year. The donation will provide for an additional 80 hours this year. He added that while the aircraft is “a very expensive piece of equipment but very necessary” it contributed to several hundred arrests when fully funded in 2008.
United Parcel Service VP Bruce Mac Rae who sits on Fueling California’s board called for local businesses to provide additional donations to help keep the aircraft flying. "If we all band together we can keep that bird up in the sky to protect us," Mac Rae said.
The helicopter flew almost 50 hours during the recent Occupy Oakland protests and is “a godsend to commanders on the ground” according to Lt. Poirier.