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.
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.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...