The Baton Rouge Metro Council (City Council) is set this week to consider whether they should purchase a new police helicopter with $946,000 from federal stimulus money, which has already been earmarked for such a purchase.
The Mayor had made the purchase of a police helicopter a campaign promise during his 2004 campaign.
Baton Rouge currently does not have a police aviation unit even though it has a violent crime rate 2.10 times the national average. Numerous studies have shown that the presence of a police helicopter has an overall reduction in crime.
In a recent memo to the Metro Council the mayor pointed out some of the advantages of a police helicopter such as, assisting with aerial pursuits, surveillance of criminal suspects, and the overall added security a police helicopter would add to the city.
Also in his memo the mayor pointed out that three Baton Rouge Police Officers are already certified helicopter pilots.
The annual costs of operating the proposed police helicopter are estimated at $62,200 a year, with approximately $37,000 of that going toward fuel.
According to the Robinson Helicopter website a new R44 Raven Helicopter already equipped with an infrared camera and search light has a suggested retail cost of $658,000.
Police Helicopter Pilot.com applauds the Baton Rouge Metro Council and the Baton Rouge Police Department leadership for pursuing an asset that will undoubtedly bring an added measure of safety to both the citizens of Baton Rouge as well as the police officers who are on the ground putting their lives on the line each and every day!
Baton rouge PD is now one step closer to aquiring the police helicopter that was promised to them during the mayoral campaign of 2004, as the Metro Council did in fact unanimously vote to approve the purchase of the new helicopter during yesterdays council meeting.
It was pointed out in the meeting that Baton Rouge was the largest parish in the region who did not currently have a police helicopter. The helicopter is a turnkey police helicopter package from Robinson Helicopter Company, virtually identical to the one pictured above with exception of the paint scheme.
Robinson Helicopter Co. is based in Torrance California and advertises the R44 as the "lowest seat cost per mile" of any helicotper 4 seat helicopter on the market. The R44 is a piston engine helicopter.