Local daily looks again: whirlybird department

Someone besides me (and the people who made all those printed copies disappear) has read the recent audit report that took an in-depth look at operations of the police department. As I did, reporter Tony Plohetsky paid particular attention to the fascinating section that recommends abolition of the APD aviation unit. When I wrote about this before, I noted that the daily’s report was brief.

Today’s analysis goes quite a way toward remedying the oversight. The on-line version lacks some of the accompanying sidebar material that enriches the print feature: “Police Department defends helicopter program as audit suggests cost-cutting measures: Some say Air 1 too costly to stay airborne” is the on-line title; the print version headings are different and include this language: “Helicopter unit is under scrutiny” and “Department, auditor disagree over cost-effectiveness.”

There’s a big opportunity cost involved. How many staffed patrol cars would be available on the ground for the amount invested in this aviation unit? Without the night-time disruption caused by noise 500 feet above and the lurid beam of the searchlight sweeping yards and rooms, how much better would we all sleep? My disposition would certainly improve. The reporter does not mention or analyze the factor of rising fuel costs. I wish that somebody would.

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