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HPD Upgrades Aging Helicopter Fleet

The Houston Police Departement is updating its helicopter fleet. The department currently has just four patrol choppers. They’re adding eleven more. Houston Council Members have to vote on the appropriation. They voiced concerns over the current state of the fleet. Laurie Johnson reports.


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HPD has a total of nine helicopters in the fleet.
Only four of them are patrol-ready.
The rest are used for training because they’re either too old or too small for patrol.
Three of those were built in 1975.

So HPD wants $16.6 million to upgrade the fleet and buy eleven new helicopters.

Houston Councilmember Toni Lawrence says the condition of the choppers is ridiculous.

“With an extended helicopter group, I think you’ll see the crime rate come down as they divide the city more. Also our training helicopters were just in terrible shape – unbelieveable.”

A number of councilmembers weighed in on the conversation.
Both Pam Holm and Anne Clutterbuck delayed the item.
Clutterbuck says she’s concerned about front-loading large purchases like this.

“And I fear that what we’re doing is getting into a pattern that previous administrations have gotten into where we play catch up all at once and ultimately end up threatening our ability in the future to smooth out our purchases.”

Clutterbuck and Holm say they’re not opposed to buying more helicopters.
They just want a few more answers about the long-term effects of replacing the fleet all at once.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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