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LAPD Helicopters Cost Taxpayers Nearly $50 Million A Year While Not Significantly Reducing Crime According To Audit 

A city audit led by Los Angeles City Controller Kenneth Mejia has revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department's helicopters spend less than half of their flight time responding to high-priority crimes. Instead, much of the time is allocated to patrolling, addressing lower-level 911 calls, ceremonial flybys, and transporting VIPs. 

The audit, a first of its kind and based on a months-long evaluation covering fiscal years 2018-22, highlighted the challenge of justifying the program's current scale due to limited data. Despite this, LAPD Chief Michel Moore defended the helicopters as crucial for crime prevention and response. The audit also uncovered disproportionate flying over lower-income neighborhoods and raised concerns over the nearly $50 million annual expenditure on the helicopter program, which exceeds the budgets of at least 14 city agencies. 

The LAPD helicopter fleet consists of 17 units and flies for 20 hours daily at a cost of approximately $2,916 per hour. The report calls for better oversight, data collection, and the establishment of clear policies for helicopter usage. The environmental impact is also significant, with 761,600 gallons of fuel used annually, emitting 7,427 metric tons of CO2. The audit's recommendations and the LAPD's subsequent scrutiny reflect ongoing debates over the necessity and efficacy of aerial surveillance in police department practices.

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Link: LA Times


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