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The Chicago Police Department sees more helicopters as a tool for fighting auto theft and other crimes

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Welcome to the Chicago Popular News community. The subject of this news is The Chicago Police Department sees more helicopters as a tool for fighting auto theft and other crimes here are the details.

icago-police-officers/, who have been facing a wave of car thefts in recent years, hope to acquire new helicopters, possibly with the help of donations, to help track down stolen vehicles and conduct other types of air missions.

A police source said the city has allocated about $ 12 million to purchase two new helicopters, but no contracts have been signed.

“We plan, or hope, to replace our helicopters,” Eric Carter, first deputy superintendent of police, said in an interview.

Carter said that “several philanthropists have come forward and asked what the needs and cost were. It would be a smooth transition if we could acquire the helicopters through philanthropists and donations – or government funds.”

It wouldn’t elaborate.

The department has two Bell helicopters, one built-in 1994 and the other in 2006. Although Carter has talked about replacing them, a former city official said the police department would be better off creating a fleet of at least four helicopters, including the two old ones. .

The possible timetable for obtaining new police helicopters is unclear. A source said it could happen as early as the end of this year. Another said it would take at least a year and a half.

The need for more helicopters was considered by all three police superintendents who served under Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the sources said.

The city is trying to hire another police helicopter pilot. Job requirements, published in March, include being a Chicago police officer for at least 18 months, having a pilot’s license, and one year of training as a police helicopter pilot.

According to the city inspector general’s website, the police helicopter unit now has eight staff members.

City police helicopters are served at Gary / Chicago International Airport in northwest Indiana. In May 2020, the city signed a $ 4.7 million five-year maintenance contract with Gary Jet Center Inc. The police department pays maintenance with the money officers seize in drug cases.

First Deputy Sup. Eric Carter: “Several philanthropists have come forward and asked what the needs and the cost were. It would be a smooth transition if we were able to acquire the helicopters through philanthropists and donations – or government funds ”. 

The number of auto thefts increased dramatically in 2020, and crime continues to be a major problem in the Chicago area. As a result, the department’s helicopters have often been called into action to track stolen vehicles until cops on the ground can make an arrest.

The officers who drive them are able to keep an eye on a runaway car when the cops on the street are unwilling to follow them or when they have been ordered to end a chase because it is too dangerous.

“We have a remarkable success rate in stopping the vehicle, recovering the vehicle and then securing some sort of charge,” said Brendan Deenihan, chief investigator, of the helicopters.

Attorney Andrew Stroth raises his hands at a press conference outside Stroger Hospital to announce a lawsuit against the city over the May 18 police shooting of a 13-year-old boy. Attorney Andrew Stroth raises his hands at a press conference outside Stroger Hospital to announce a lawsuit against the city over the May 18 police shooting of a 13-year-old boy. 

“It gives us time to think of safer ways to arrest and take a person into custody,” Carter said.

In a helicopter chase on May 18, a pilot spent about 15 minutes following a stolen car until the occupants jumped out and fled. One of them, a 13-year-old, was hit on the ground by an officer.

The stolen Honda Accord had been used in a car theft in Oak Park, officials said. Automatic license plate reading equipment in Chicago alerted the car police and one of the helicopters began following it, officials said.

Honda zigzagged across the West Side as the rider radioed the car’s location to a police officer who kept asking the rider if ground police vehicles were available to follow the Honda. The answer was no.

The car pulled up near a gas station on Cicero Avenue and Chicago Avenue, and the driver said, “You’ve got two walking south on Cicero now,” according to a police radio chat tape.

The 13-year-old boy “turned to the officers” and was shot and killed, the police sup. David Brown said. The teenager fired no shots and did not have a gun, according to the City Police Civil Liability Bureau. Brown said investigators believe the boy was involved in the Oak Park car theft.

The boy’s family is suing the city for the shooting, which left him badly wounded in the back.

“Unfortunately, that drew a lot more attention to the end result,” Deenihan said of the May 18 chase. “But that’s how the system works. I think you can make a reasonable guess here [the suspects] he knew the helicopter was above them: left, right, north, south, east, west. In the end, I’m like, “We have to get out of this car because this helicopter isn’t leaving.” ”

Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) at a 2021 city council meeting.Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th): “The reason we haven’t invested in buying more helicopters is staggering. It is a proven tool to fight the crimes that are decimating our city ”. 

Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) asked Lightfoot and Brown to get more police helicopters to fight auto theft in his Southwest Side neighborhood and the rest of the city. O’Shea said he spoke with representatives of Democratic Illinois senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and United States Representative Mike Quigley, D-Ill., About the possibility of securing federal money for one or more of them.

“The reason we haven’t invested in purchasing more helicopters is staggering,” O’Shea said. “It is a proven tool for fighting the crimes that are decimating our city.”

O’Shea said he was told the department’s helicopters are in “bad shape” and often down for maintenance.

The patch Chicago police helicopter pilots wear on their flight suits.The patch Chicago police helicopter pilots wear on their flight suits. 

Chicago Police Department

Under a mutual aid agreement, the police department shares its helicopters with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, which is part of the department’s auto theft task force.

The task force also secured helicopter air support from the Federal Department of Homeland Security and the Illinois State Police.

In addition to tracking down the stolen vehicles, the two police department helicopters are used on search and rescue missions, assessing the size of large crowds, overseeing events such as the Chicago Marathon and conducting “aerial reconnaissance of target locations.”

Chicago firefighters also have two Bell helicopters, which are used in relief efforts.

Other cities have larger police helicopter fleets. The LAPD has 17 helicopters. The New York Police Department has seven. The Houston Police Department has 13 helicopters, including one down due to a “hard landing,” a spokeswoman said.

Los Angeles and New York also each have a police plane.

Carter said it would be “ideal” for Chicago to have a much larger fleet of police helicopters like those in Los Angeles and Houston.

“It’s just a force multiplier across the Chicago metropolitan region,” he said.

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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