Flint, MI– The Flint Police Department’s new helicopter is still not yet up in the air, but officials say they hope it will be soon.
In July, the police department requested $304,050 to lease a helicopter for three months, with the goal of helping officers on the ground, improving response times, and better monitoring the city. The plan was to deploy it a few days a week during peak crime hours.
“We are still working on getting the helicopter in service,” said Flint Police Department Sgt. Tyrone Booth on Sept. 17. “We hope to have it in service soon. However, we do not have a date.”
The Flint City Council unanimously approved the contract on July 27, but the helicopter is still not yet in use.
On Aug. 30, Booth said the department was still “fine-tuning the helicopter in terms of its communication.”
“We wanted to make sure that was right, and to make sure that we had the right equipment on board,” he said in August. “It’s coming. I don’t have an exact date, but in the very near future, I would say within the next two weeks, you’ll see it in the air.”
In the meantime, Booth said the Michigan State Police are still flying their helicopter for the Flint Police Department and providing assistance that way.
Even once Flint begins using its own helicopter, Booth said they will continue to use MSP’s as well.
According to the Flint Police Department’s latest crime summary comparison from Sept. 12, there have been 51 homicides in Flint so far this year, compared to 37 homicides at this time last year. That’s an increase of 37.84%.
Mayor Sheldon Neeley declared a State of Emergency for the City of Flint due to gun violence on July 23. Police Chief Terence Green told the council he thought this helicopter will be an additional solution to reduce violence and crime in Flint.
“If someone is engaged in criminal activity and they know that a helicopter is hovering above, they’re going to be reluctant to commit that crime,” Green said to the council in July.