Volume 94, Issue 69

Thursday, January 25, 2001


NEWS

Government initiates funding for more nursing

Helicopter improves cops: prof

Year-round school to be debated

Free trade could span education and health

Canadians getting older and healthier

Briefs

Planet Me

Helicopter improves cops: prof

Kristina Lundblad
Gazette Writer

London Police's latest aerial addition – a helicopter – has increased the overall quality of law enforcement in the Forest City, according to the research of a Western professor.

Sociology professor Paul Whitehead, who recently released the findings of a one-year study on the use of a police helicopter, indicated while there was no actual decrease in London's crime rate, police efficiency increased.

According to Whitehead, the greater speed and maneuverability of the helicopter are what make it more effective than patrol cars. "It is more likely for an apprehension to take place," he said.

In addition, the use of an aerial search light has many benefits, Whitehead said. "It turns day into night, which increases officer and citizen safety."

Despite the benefits, there are community costs, according to Const. Ryan Holland of the London Police.

Holland said there were a total of 140 noise complaints from London residents over the one-year trial period. Most of these calls came after the helicopter had been flying at a low altitude or during the night.

Ultimately, the decision for not investing in a helicopter goes beyond noise complaints and points directly at City funds, said Ward 3 councillor, Bernie MacDonald, who also sits on London's Police Board.

MacDonald said he is extremely concerned with the cost that the purchase and upkeep of a helicopter would incur.

Since the helicopter proved no reduction in crime, MacDonald said he refuses to support the investment. The one-year trial period cost the City $446,000. "The bottom line is that London just can't afford it," he said.

MacDonald said if the money used to fund the helicopter was instead put towards hiring more police officers, the City would be better off.

Whitehead did not make a recommendation on the purchase of a helicopter, one way or the other.

He said the ultimate decision is a political one, he said, and his research will only assist them in theprocess.

Holland said the London Police are reviewing Whitehead's report, but have not yet agreed to go to the City Council with a proposal regarding the future of the police helicopter. "This is a big commitment in dollars, which requires further investigation," he said.


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