By a unanimous vote the Metro Council approved the purchase of a Robinson R44 police helicopter for the Baton Rouge, La., Police Department. The approval fulfills a promise Mayor Kip Holden made when he was elected in 2004.
“Just to show you where we stand, West Baton Rouge has a helicopter, West Feliciana has a helicopter, and Livingston has a helicopter, we are by far the largest parish in this area that doesn’t have a helicopter,” Holden told the council.
Holden added that the helicopter will not only help crack down on crime, but also will help to protect police officers and the public during high-speed pursuits. He pointed out that the four-seat Robinson R44 police helicopter with related equipment and training will be purchased with $946,000 in federal economic stimulus money.
According to police Capt. Roger Tully, the helicopter will be used about 1,000 hours per year. With fuel, maintenance, and hangar space, the helicopter is expected to cost about $62,200 per year.
The R44 police helicopter is a turnkey FAA-approved package that includes specialized equipment such as infrared imaging system, searchlight, monitor, and a dual audio controller for additional radios. According to Robinson Helicopter, its police and ENG helicopters are seeing strong interest and sales as departments look for cost effective airborne solutions.