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Mayor Keller Requests Council Take Fast Action to Replace Police Helicopter

The 17-year-old helicopter is unable to fly on hot days.

Sept. 5, 2018

Mayor Tim Keller is asking the City Council to take fast action to help Albuquerque Police Department modernize its air support by replacing its 17-year-old helicopter to give officers a critical edge to safely track suspects who flee from police.

Last week, Mayor Keller and APD highlighted the importance of air support as part of improving crime-fighting strategies in the city. APD is increasingly relying on air support, rather than dangerous vehicle pursuits, to track suspects who flee from police. The current 17-year-old helicopter cannot operate effectively at high altitudes or hot days.

“Attacking crime from all sides requires modern tactics and modern technology that put our officers in the best position to arrest criminals,” Mayor Keller said. “Our city can’t afford to have a chopper that can’t fly during the heat of summer. We need these eyes in the sky to give officers the edge to keep our communities safe.”

APD released statistics today that show how often APD’s Auto Unit has called upon the Air Unit to support successful law enforcement operations throughout the city.

For example, even though the helicopter has been down for maintenance for much of 2018, the helicopter unit has been responsible for 35 felony arrests, 12 felony assists, 27 stolen vehicles recovered, and $326,500 in property recovered.

So far, this year, the helicopter has been used to respond to 44 calls in the Southeast; 23 calls in the Southwest; 21 calls in the Northwest; 10 calls in the Northeast; 7 calls in the Valley; and 4 in the Foothill

Air support has been especially successful for planned auto theft tactical operations and to track and arrest criminals.

Modern police helicopters can be equipped with the high-definition cameras that enable pilots to fly higher, see more, and operate with less noise so residents are not disturbed. Video and data can be transmitted to APD’s Real Time Crime Center during live pursuits and surveillance missions.

Today, Councilors Ken Sanchez and Trudy Jones announced they are introducing a bill to replace the old helicopter.

“We appreciate the Councilors for stepping up to meet this critical need,” continued Mayor Keller. “A safer, more modern helicopter is a force multiplier that will make all the difference as we fight crime.”