Usage numbers down but costs up for Winnipeg police department’s helicopter

By on May 30, 2017


Police said roughly 170 hours were lost due to weather, maintenance and staffing issues, which is up nearly 20 per cent from the year before, and there were 35 per cent fewer calls for service. (Photo: Winnipeg Police Service/ Facebook)
Police said roughly 170 hours were lost due to weather, maintenance and staffing issues, which is up nearly 20 per cent from the year before, and there were 35 per cent fewer calls for service. (Photo: Winnipeg Police Service/ Facebook)

WINNIPEG – A new report shows usage is down but costs are up with Winnipeg’s police helicopter.

According to flight operation statistics, the helicopter logged 27 per cent less air time in 2016 compared to the year before.

In total, Air1 logged about 733 hours of flight time in 2016.

Police said roughly 170 hours were lost due to weather, maintenance and staffing issues, which is up nearly 20 per cent from the year before, and there were 35 per cent fewer calls for service.

However, costs to operate the helicopter have increased.

The report said the bill to the province was more than $1.9 million in 2016 compared to $1.8 million the year before.

Insp. Jon Lutz with the Special Operational Support Unit said despite the cost, the helicopter is a valuable tool that does things people cannot do.

Const. Tammy Skrabek said some examples include stopping car chases, suicides and locating a suspect on the ground, hidden between buildings.

β€œThe helicopter is a specialized tool with specialized uses, and it will always be invaluable,” Skrabek said.