I’d like to know when Virginia Beach residents thought is was a great idea to give millionaires tour rides in the VBPD helicopter!? Whether the it is utilized as a nightingale backup, catch legitimate bad guys, or routine flight ops, the police helicopter is for O F F I C I A L USE ONLY! Let these millionaires hire private businesses to give theses people tours of the city if they want to fly that bad!
Below is the story conducted by the local news station.
Posted on January 11, 2012 at 6:34 PM
Updated Wednesday, Jan 11 at 6:42 PM
VIRGINIA BEACH — Virginia Beach is implementing a written policy to safeguard the use of its police helicopter.
13News obtained a draft administrative directive that allows the city’s Economic Development Department to use the police helicopter to provide aerial tours for clients on an as available, as needed basis.
A spokesman for Virginia Beach Police tells 13News that the police department “wholeheartedly” supports the draft administrative directive. He added the only major caveat would be that police work always takes precedent over the tours.
“We’re not here to give somebody a pleasure ride at taxpayers expense. I just think it’s the wrong way to go,” said Robert Dean.
Dean believes even though the economic development department would shift money from its budget to the police budget for fuel costs, the use of the police chopper for tours sends the wrong message.
“But to constantly use this helicopter for police and public safety expenditure for economic development is wrong,” said Dean.
A spokesperson for the City of Virginia Beach said the police helicopter is only used for economic development tours a few times a year.
The draft advance directive says that in order for economic development to use the helicopter for tours, the potential project must exceed $5 million in private investment, must create at least 50 new jobs, showcase multiple potential sites, and prospects must be aligned with the current targeted industry markets.
Council member Harry Diezel says using the police helicopter for economic development during downtime makes sense.
“It does not do well to just sit and to only use it when a call comes in. Those are highly sophisticated and highly maintained pieces of equipment,” said Diezel adding, “I don’t think any city has the luxury to just fence itself in and not deal with the larger community issues. That to me is what’s happening here.”
Virginia Beach has two police helicopters. Police departments in Norfolk, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth and Hampton do not have helicopters.
Regionally, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police told 13News it does have a police helicopter; however, a spokesperson said it is only used for public safety purposes.
The city says the administrative directive could be finalized in the next few weeks.
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