However, following the city’s increased need to cut costs and find ways to make budget reductions, this CAN$11-million request cannot be so easily effected.
The police force argue that their current helicopters are ‘limiting’, and that new aircraft will help them to better fulfil their duties and serve the community at large. And many Calgary councillors have empathised with their plight, indeed those who are also in favour of significant budget cuts agree that new helicopters are a necessary expense.
“Helicopters are vital pieces of equipment which are used on a daily basis to assist frontline members with making arrests, following stolen vehicles from a safe distance and searching for suspects, vehicles, suspicious persons and missing people,” it said in a statement from police. “CPS needs to adhere to the inspection and maintenance requirements set by Transport Canada, which means that two helicopters are needed in order to respond to crime 24/7.”
The police service represents one of the largest portions of the city’s operating budget, however, as Councillor Jeromy Farkas pointed out: “Calgary was actually the first municipal police agency in Canada to have a full-time patrol helicopter program and it’s pretty clear that it’s proven its value ever since.”
Farkas stresses that the money needed to pay for the new aircraft would not represent an expansion of the programme, but instead act as a replacement for old helicopters that have exceeded their life cycle. Still, a request for proposal (RFP) is not a commitment to buy, as Farkas highlighted, and therefore the city will not proceed if the deal is not deemed appropriate.