Police: Maintenance has grounded department's helicopters - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Police: Maintenance has grounded department's helicopters

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Every helicopter in the Memphis Police Department's fleet is grounded and the police director is counting on a department in another state to provide help if it's needed. Every helicopter in the Memphis Police Department's fleet is grounded and the police director is counting on a department in another state to provide help if it's needed.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Every helicopter in the Memphis Police Department's fleet is grounded and the police director is counting on a department in another state to provide help if it's needed.

Helicopters provide eyes in the sky for officers on the ground.

"When we're out there chasing robbery suspects or carjackers, one of the first things we want to do is get the helicopters up," said Michael Williams, president of the Memphis Police Association.

The department currently has 4 helicopters, but confirmed Thursday that all of them have been grounded for maintenance and basic repairs.

However, Williams said it may be a budget issue.

"It leads me to believe that money hasn't been appropriated for the needed repairs or to bring those helicopters into compliance," said the union president.

MPD officials haven't said how long the helicopters have been down, but did say the department plans to have at least two of them back in rotation within the next several weeks.

If there is an emergency or the need for a helicopter, the DeSoto County Sheriff's Aviation Unit will be asked to assist.

"The citizens of this city should not have to worry about someone from DeSoto County taking care of their area," said Williams.

He also said taxpayers should demand answers.

"These are things the taxpayers actually pay their money for, but for some reason the city's administration and council, they don't feel a need to ensure that the citizens are safe," he said. "They'd rather be doing projects, boats, garages and all of that."

"In no way does this mean the air units are irreparable, but continuing to operate them while needing small repairs can lead to bigger problems," Memphis Police Director Toney said in a written statement. "Keep in mind that we do not solely depend on the helicopter as a major resource. Our officers continue to protect our citizens utilizing other resources that include Canine Unit, Organized Crime Unit, and police cruisers equipped with license plate readers and FLIR capabilities."

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