By Mia Thomas – staff reporter
Burnaby police—and citizens— will be among those benefiting from a new police helicopter.
Solicitor General John Les announced recently that the province's first helicopter, fully equipped and dedicated to traffic safety, is coming to the Lower Mainland. It's going to be fighting crime from the air over 17 municipalities in the region, those served by either RCMP or municipal police departments.
"What it's going to do is it's going to enhance and certainly support our efforts in Burnaby," said Cpl. Pierre Lemaitre, spokesperson for the Burnaby RCMP. "It will help with overall crime prevention." Lemaitre noted that it could make a difference when police are trying to catch car thieves or those otherwise trying to outrun the law on the roads. "If we put in a request to them because we're doing something operational, it's nice to know they'll be there for us." Crime-fighting in the city will be changing, he added. "It's certainly going to bring a new chapter for us."
Although people might be imagining something along the lines of the Los Angeles Police Department's chopper reporting in
real time, Lemaitre said it won't be quite along those lines. "For us, it's another commitment to having safer homes and safer streets. It's a welcome addition."
The helicopter is a $2.2-million Eurocopter EC-120B Colibri, to be nick-named Air One. Equipment such as an infra- red camera and a high-powered light will help with police night work. It's funded through a joint traffic safety agreement between the provincial and federal governments and ICBC. Crews have yet to finish their training and orientation, but are expected to be ready by March, when the helicopter will take to the air.
The RCMP has a fleet modernization plan, supported by the Treasury Board and Public Works and Government Services Canada. Fixed-wing aircraft are replaced every seven years, about 7,000 hours of flight, and helicopters are replaced after 15 years. The aircraft are sold and the money is used to buy newer aircraft, which are safer, more efficient and cost-effective.
– Burnaby Now
Editor's note: Since the acquisition of that helicopter we noticed much more noise over Vancouver.