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City controller calls for new policies following LAPD helicopter fleet audit

The audit found that the program costs the city about $46 million per year and that many logged flight hours were not flights “of the highest priority”

By Joanna Putman

LOS ANGELES — A city audit of the LAPD Air Support Division (ASD) raised questions about the benefits of the helicopter program, KABC reported.

City Controller Kenneth Meija conducted the first-ever audit of the ASD this year, according to the report. It was conducted in response to citizens and organizations who requested more information about LAPD helicopters.

“We were expecting to find a tight relationship between allegations of crime and where these helicopters are going,” said Chief of Accountability and Oversight Sergio Perez. “We didn’t find that relationship in certain neighborhoods, including neighborhoods in South Los Angeles and in East Los Angeles.”

The report by the controller shows that the program costs about $46 million per year, according to the report. It also states that 61% of logged flight time consisted of flights that were not “of the highest priority.”

The controller’s office recommended that the LAPD establish a clearer policy on when the helicopters should be used.

“The policy should include guidance on criminal activity, types and trend that warrant directed patrols,” says Dinah Manning, who serves as Director of Public Safety: Accountability & Oversight for the controller’s office.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore issued a statement reinforcing the importance of the helicopter program.

“I believe the Air Support Division’s activities play a critical role in our public safety mission here in Los Angeles,” Moore said. “Their flights frequently result in their arrival at calls for service ahead of our patrols aiding responding officers with critical information and situational awareness. Air support also provides added patrols to detect and prevent crimes including residential burglaries while also responding to officer’s assistance calls involving violent and highly dangerous situations.”