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Winnipeg’s aerial police unit will stay at one: chief

May 2, 2012, Winnipeg - Winnipeg's police chief says the service can't justify asking for a second helicopter, at least not yet.


May 2, 2012
By CTV News

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Keith McCaskill gave the city's protection committee an update on the current police chopper Monday morning.

Some are calling for a second unit after reports from CTV News last
week that the chopper has been grounded lately because of maintenance
and staffing issues. Calgary and Edmonton have two choppers in place in
those cities.

But Winnipeg's police chief says the service can't say if a second
one is necessary until the first one has been fully evaluated.

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"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,"
added McCaskill.

He also said Winnipeg's helicopter has been grounded primarily
because of staffing issues. Two pilots have quit in recent months. 

"This is a tool we want up as much as we possibly can. Two less pilots makes an impact," said McCaskill. 

The chief told the committee the chopper was in the air for 1,100
hours and responded to more than 2,000 incidents since January 2011. He
says it helped net 147 arrests.

In 2011, the chopper was up for an average of 81 hours per month,
leading to about 11 arrests each month. For the first three months of
2012, the monthly average was about 40 hours, with approximately seven
arrests each month. 

The chief said a search is underway for another pilot and he said the
service is preparing a more detailed update on the helicopter for city
officials. 


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