Dallas Police Chopper Could Go on City's Chopping Block

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCDFW.com
    The city wants to sell the police department's $1.6 million helicopter just three years after buying it because of money woes.

    Dallas is looking to sell its $1.6 million police helicopter just three years after buying it, but the idea isn't flying with police officers.

    The city said it doesn't have the $200,000 needed for the helicopter's maintenance because of the Dallas' expected budget shortfall.

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    "Given the budget situation and where we are, we really have to look hard at where we spend our resources," Mark Duebner.

    The city is projecting a $130 million shortfall for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

    When the city bought the helicopter, it said the chopper would be a vital piece to improving homeland security.

    The helicopter could be used to drop firemen and/or SWAT team members onto buildings during large-scale disasters, the city said at the time.

    Duebner said the chopper is expendable because it has never been used in that way in the three years the city has owned it.

    But police officers say it's absurd to sell a chopper that the city fought so hard to purchase.

    Eddie Crawford, of the Dallas Police Association, said the sale will have a negative impact on public safety.

    He said he is angered that the city would say it won't need the helicopter in the future just because it hasn't been used in a homeland security situation yet.

    "We never thought planes would fly into buildings, and we woke up, and here it is," Crawford said. "There is a reason for this larger helicopter, and the city just to save a dollar is missing the point on it."

    Deubner said the city is better off selling the helicopter and keeping the department's two smaller choppers.

    "We will still fly the same number of hours pilots will still be at full strength and no reduction in service," he said.

    Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway said the helicopter won't be sold without going through the City Council first and vowed to fight to keep the aircraft.