Police helicopters to return to service

       Helicopters will reportedly be back in the air over Colorado Springs by the end of this month, based on City Council's consensus approval at its informal meeting Feb. 11.
       Both Old Colorado City business-leadership groups - the Security & Maintenance District and the Old Colorado City Associates - had urged the return of the choppers, which have assisted police on the ground for the past 12 years but have been grounded by a tight budget so far this year.
       Police Chief Richard Myers presented council with a plan for a $359,000 program through the rest of 2008 in which the city's two Vietnam-era helicopters will be fixed and scheduled for 725 hours of air time (less if repairs come in higher than expected). Funding for the Air Support Unit (ASU) will come from the Police Department's gift trust fund, a budget carryover from 2007 and Colorado Springs Utilities, which in return will get to fly it for inspections about 30 hours during the year.
       Meanwhile, city officials are seeking funding for new(er) helicopters. These have included requests to both the state's U.S. senators, according to Mayor Lionel Rivera.
       The police report to council included a list of incidents in which the ASU has proved useful in recent years. Two of these were on the Westside. One was Dec. 1, 2004. A man had tried to steal a woman's purse and threatened her at the King Soopers, 3250 Centennial Blvd. The view from the helicopter helped police arrest five people in connection with the incident.
       Another was March 18, 2005. A police officer had stopped a car at 19th and Uintah streets, but the car “suddenly sped away,” the report states. The police helicopter tracked the vehicle to an apartment complex, where the eluding driver was captured.

Westside Pioneer article