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O.C. cities likely to cut back on police helicopter program

Both Newport Beach and Costa Mesa are likely to make significant cuts in their police helicopter program.

The joint helicopter program, called Airborne Law Enforcement (ABLE), is considered a key part of both cities' policing effort, and cuts in the amount of airborne time could hurt the departments' effectiveness, Costa Mesa Sgt. Tim Starn said.

The helicopter is considered a "force multiplier" by police because of its range of vision, quick response time and multiple tools. The Eagle can get from Newport Coast to Santa Ana in five minutes, find stolen cars through a LoJack signal from the air and detect body heat if a suspect is hiding in a backyard.

"There's going to be an impact; there's no question about it," Starn said. "I guarantee. Track the crime rate for the next year. I guarantee you it will increase."

Critics say that the ABLE program is too expensive to support while Costa Mesa and Newport Beach continue to trim budgets and try to avoid more layoffs and cuts to city services. The program costs more than $2 million, much of which goes to staffing, which is also being cut.

Newport Beach passed its budget with the ABLE funding intact from last year, but will likely adjust it in the coming weeks to match Costa Mesa's reductions, Starn said told the Daily Pilot.

Instead of having a day patrol shift and night patrol shift, pilots will now patrol once a day, he said. Officials will study crime trends in Newport-Mesa to determine when to patrol. The helicopter will patrol about 1,500 hours this year -- about half of last year's total.

Read the full story here.

-- Joseph Serna, Daily Pilot

Photo credit: Newport Beach Police Department

 
Comments () | Archives (16)

Finally a decision that makes sense! Quit spending our tax money on high tech junk. Educate our children please.

Now we just need to get rid of the radar trailers that blink how fast you drive by, as if that was a good use of our taxes. No more technology to suck our working class of their children's futures.

What a waste of money to begin with. The police will say, of course: the sky is falling.

I lived in Costa Mesa for years, those helicopters may be useful, but at too high a cost for me. I'm not talking money, they shine the big light in each persons backyard about 1-2 times a week. Sometimes for minutes. It would wake me up. The helicopter is also very loud and often flew over very low and very late at night. It made me feel like a criminal just for living in the city. I would never live there again.

With the amount of crime rising because of the economy, not having air support to find criminals, is a bad idea. Helicopters are an effective crime fighting tool and not having one flying around at night is going to allow criminals to get away. And by the way, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach aren't going to spend any more money in the school districts, they will only make more cuts to education and services.

With the amount of crime rising because of the economy, not having air support to find criminals, is a bad idea. Helicopters are an effective crime fighting tool and not having one flying around at night is going to allow criminals to get away. And by the way, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach aren't going to spend any more money in the school districts, they will only make more cuts to education and services.

With the amount of crime rising because of the economy, not having air support to find criminals, is a bad idea. Helicopters are an effective crime fighting tool and not having one flying around at night is going to allow criminals to get away. And by the way, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach aren't going to spend any more money in the school districts, they will only make more cuts to education and services.

Can we please cut down the police helicopters in Long Beach next please? They are a nuisance to everyone, constantly going over peoples homes all day and night. What a waste of money

How about the City of Costa Mesa stop being in bed with Nordstrom by allowing them to pay $500 a year for a business license? They just laid off workers and now cutting more city services? This mayor is an idiot lets get him out!

Sgt. Tim Starn said he guarantees crim will increase. Maybe he should take his negative energy and use it to find alternative solutions.

They are very effective; however, I don't think they're worth the cost...Can't they use some of those cheaper drones the military uses...Doesn't San Bernardino use a drone sometimes...

can you say big brother is watching you. we call it the eye in the sky. they look for pot in your back yard, and your wife or daughter in a bikini sunning . in my area there were at least one fly over per day,and then they catch the sun set every day over the san pedro peninsula. now thats what i call crime control.

I'm happy to see the helicopters go. They are just too loud. I don't care about the cost or the crime prevented. I hate the noise. That stupid helicopter has hovered in my area a few times, and it just won't stop. It keeps circling and circling and circling.... If it's so effective, then why does it have to keep going around in circles? Can't it find the bad guy and then just leave! Bye bye helicopter. I'm so happy. This is the best news yet. (I live in East Costa Mesa)

In addition to allowing an increase in the crime rate we can also look at the lose of revenue to helicopter support I.E. The company and technicians who maintain the aircraft. Further that to possible lay offs to people who's expertise will not likely fit well with like paying jobs. "Cut off your nose to spite your face" mentality. Furthering the decline of our economy. While I don't say spend our way out of our slumping economy; I do say don't cut programs that will exponentially ripple and do unnecessary damage. When will you all figure out that it is those at the upper or top income bracket that we must regulate better. Government officials and what not in my area I middle school teacher makes roughly $40k yet the principle makes in excess of $90k and administrators only go up. Nurses want to strike because they want pay increase and more staffing. So many people have such a skewed view of such simple economics it's ridiculous. Bleeding hearts want to heal the criminal mind and pamper them in prison. Yet so many of us who obey laws can not afford health insurance. Our employers are taxed so far into the red they find it easier to hire and fire so they don't have to insure them. But what does it matter raise taxes some more son the government can give coverage to us all for free right?

why don't they contract it out to PRIVATE companies that can provide all the equip. cheaper and pilots and keep the officers on the streets?

Guaranteed there will always be someone who misses the point and starts rambling on about pampering criminals and laying off pilots. The financial resources of our cities and states have been so corrupted, few citizens know how their money really flows and where it goes to.

These things are invasive, a waste, expensive, and ironically, in the way they are often used...flying in a tight circle at a 45 degree angle..not even healthy for the pilots. The g forces adversely impact the pilot's spine after flying like that for too long. And so many are flying AFTER the fact, it just seems stupid.

Thank God someone in OC is paying attention. Pay more cops to be on the ground...and it will put more money into more hands and into the economy in general... Not just a few pilots and the high tech contractors making money off of the high tech sensor and photo equipment! Can't do everything...including fix the economy... with that darn copter!!!!

Why is there a helicopter that circles San Pedro (around where the 110 ends) all the time. About a couple months ago in November there was a guy who shot at the police in our area near Gaffey and Sepulveda. Since then the damn police helicopter has been circling San Pedro for hours at a time in the middle of the night. I'm talking about 1 or 2 AM sometimes.

It's so damn annoying. I'm going to vote against any approvals for police helicopter over-use. And I will be talking to all my neighbors and family about this.


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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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